Listening to Sibelius

stacked in neat rows, my books
I stare at them
listening to the haunting dirge
and perceive within my squared living room
a death march sustained by betrayed youth
the bitter forests of Finland
soldiers in moist boots
trudging for the remote yearning of
patriotic song
when at once their spines
snap as broken chords
and from my stupor I see
visions no more

my hour remains
what can it mean, the living breath?
to gaze at chests labeled Pushkin
Rumi and Babel
hard bound they cast an insentient glare
as rivers of blood flow
between them
carrying sodden socks and hair

Jean Sibelius dead
fleshed of horn and violin
here performs your tragedy
the last house of the cul de sac
a carpeted floor and air conditioned
through which blow Nordic winds
and salted air

how suddenly my books appear
biers of angels caught
between worlds
I awake to open one, another
and sense apparitions near
mingling soldiers in a swampy dusk
my living room a river of
copse and corpse

the music sings, the shelves have pores
and clinging to a splintered sink
a sampan melody carries me
forth in thirds

hear the symphony ends—
and I begin

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