THE ART OF REST
The musician masters it
in the elision from play
lift of bow hair from the string,
mouthpiece drawn away from lips,
the metronomic count
no one can hear, the exactness
in the next note sounded, a cycle
of forgettings and remembrances.
Or to be among those included
only as an afterthought, unnamed,
an auditioner passed on for a role,
a contributor fallen short of standout effort,
any who linger on the fringe
of limelight, who long to bathe
in a citrus glow.
Or relaxation’s elusive sidekick,
more potent than the strongest drug, the want
of every life. In death, of course, the tables turn—
that familiar stone engraving, the rip
from brain and blood and beat to join instead
with peace, where the living wonder
if it is, indeed, history,
or something else entirely.
We might think of sleep
as the oldest instance of the form,
the challenge greater before the first mattress
of leaves, straw, skin.
There are those who retain that skill
of ancient times; those of us awake hear
the rosiny scratch of dreams in the pitch
of every breath,
the song of it all,
the marks of the composer.
On a sleepless midwinter night
December 19, 2014
Image: "James VI Asleep at Church"
Oil on Canvas - Date Unknown