Two poems by Anne M Carson


Pads like a lemur’s, rounded
     ends fat with sense receptors –

Merkels, Meissners, Ruffinis
     and Pacinians. She fingers her

way into the music, and the
     instrument haptics back, cello

to player. She needs the timber
     vibration to quiver through thighs

and chest, the zing of the wire
     through ulna and phalanges

for synchrony, pitch, timbre. The
     strings sing out loudly, she tests

musicality as she goes along. Bodies
     alive, with the intelligence and

lilt of music. She suggests
     Bach to the cello, the story they

have shared so often, the Suites
     they love to play. She closes her

eyes, no sheet music needed to
     draw those luminous strains from

the strings. Each finger joint has
     been trained over thousands

of hours, packed with kinetic potential –
     strength and control to hold

the superbly vibrating string, to pick, bow,
     pluck and finger melody

and percussion from the notes. She
     discerns kilohertz, not by numbers

but by feel; exquisite arpeggios, perfect
       pizzicatos. You can see the musician’s

brain at work in her movements – how close
     the choreography of sound

and action, how the brain lights up.
     Her fingers fly over the instrument

in flurries of dexterity. She and her
     cello – classic pas de deux.




I pad round the house in stockinged
feet picking up, sorting, making loose

order. My J is learning the pieces
your J has composed. He’s onto the

last six of the second twelve. A run
of notes soars up the staircase, spirals

around the landing to the upper storey.
The old timbers and plasters breathe

it in, the house settles on its haunches.
You would have heard this exact

sequence of notes inscribe the air in
your home, infusing the humdrum.

Almost three hundred years, but if I
reach out, wouldn’t my hand

encounter yours?


Note: Fugue 18 is from the first book of the Well-Tempered Klavier by JS Bach. The ‘you’ in the poem is Anna Magdalena Bach, JS Bach’s second wife.


About the contributor

Anne M Carson
Anne M Carson’s poetry has been published internationally, and widely in Australia. Recent publications include Massaging Himmler: A Poetic Biography of Dr Felix Kersten (Hybrid, 2019), and Two Green Parrots (Ginninderra Press, 2019). She has initiated a number of poetry-led social justice projects, and is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at RMIT.

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