Books by Diane Frank

Isis: Poems by Diane Frank

All Alone in the Orchestra

A small audience is gathered in the church.
A collection of musicians is on the altar,
playing Mozart,
the velvet and the pulpit pushed aside.
I am hanging on to the cello section,
the last molecule in the comet's tail.
What good does it do me that I can fly right now?
I am all alone in the orchestra.
I wonder if these church people can see
this obvious hermit in black and lace.
I could play a wrong note, stand up
before the symphony is through; however,
we are playing Mozart.

I put away my mind's telescope
and attempt to focus my attention.
I sway back and forth to follow these long notes
and try to go where they will take me.
I feel the movement in my back, my wrists, my toes.
Then the comet in me flies off again.
Would anyone like to come along with me?
A cellist or the oboe player?
Hey you, playing over these:
I offer you —
my secret constellations,
the shadows in my corners,
the ivy growing all around my mind.

I can see you playing every instrument —
Bass, cello, viola, violin . . .
Your body changes to fit each one.
French horn, bassoon, oboe, flute . . .
Your bones mold into every new position.
Now I see you play a clarinet.
Your spine is made of sparks,
around it
the rhythm of frantic moths
black and bound together by the night.

I see you turn into an owl,
a raven,
the sky.
I feel the tempo of all your small animals.

Yes, we are playing Mozart.
I'm bound by this essential gravity;
I orbit in this space.
I haven't missed a thirty-second note.
I lean into these notes; I sway;
I follow where they want to take me.

Suddenly, I'm not playing anymore.
I want to fly through the body
of one of these martyrs of church-stained glass.
I want to peel off my skin.
I could sing a note so high and pure
that all of you would break,
as I sit here quiet in my black and lace —
my arms stuck in their angular space,
my fingers reaching, reaching . . .

And then, I'm far away from here.
It's snowing
and absolutely still inside.
My head is an open cage,
an amphitheatre
with skeletons of the winter trees.
Silent birds fly out of my skull
like a high note on the cello
after the bow stops.

— Diane Frank