J.R. Solonche is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (forthcoming in April from Kelsay Books), 110 Poems (forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
After Reading Chekhov I go for a Walk in Town
Knowing almost all, I put the book
in the pocket of my jacket. I feel
them slap, Lady with Lapdog and Other Stories
against my thigh and hip as I walk
in the light. I feel light of heart.
I feel light-headed as if just given
a clean bill of health by my physician.
I pass the men and women in the street
who stop to look in the glass
of shop windows, the men and women
who stop at corners for the light to change,
while the men and women with business
more urgent than mine pass me.
They walk with haste, go secretly to meet
their lovers in dark, airless restaurants.
I recognize them now, yet I still need to see
the terrible denial of the known
in the clearest of eyes before I pause
to look in the mirror of the bookshop window,
to look at failure in the face, before I walk on.
So what are we to make of this,
that the soprano’s voice is beautiful,
angelically pure and flawless,
while the soprano herself (that she
without the voice) is plain and dull?
How do we respond to this anomaly,
defend our sensibility against a flawed design
since this is perfection half done?
Should we close our eyes, for an hour
then be willing to believe
the world is sound and nothing more?
We could do that, meet her half-way, contrive
to handicap ourselves for the genius of one sense.
Or we could look at everything but her:
The tenors at attention like soldiers,
the organ pipes, severe in verticality,
ascending to the ceiling like a tree,
the altar, austere beneath the bright
brass cross, the colored windows that sing light.
© 2018 J.R. Solonche