Monday, January 17, 2011

In This Balmy Night

In This Balmy Night
For poet, Carla Martin-Wood

Dark wood and glass lamps
let me rise
from the day's routine.
Hair rippling, hood shadowing
the arch of my neck,
I take center stage
like a wild maiden
from some Gothic verse..

I want to draw the breath
out of the audience
leaving them beguiled, possessed
by my words.
White egrets from Sanibel
The Glassmaker's Son
and Merman's Bride
slowly approach. Land and characters
love me well, nudge their way
to the top of my list --

but first, I am upstaged
by a cat who saunters in
to this old speak easy.
Lithe and luminous-eyed
she curls around my feet.
Usually, street or field mice,
sidewalk sparrows
become her prey, but tonight
she settles in, dusk silver
seeking to stalk my nerves,
snuff the uncertainty
in my voice.

Her purring begins.
I sense the sweet hum
of a Venetian aria
that softens the scene, loosens
the muscles of my lean throat.
and I suspect ---
.Ah! yes, Dear T.S.
must have sent her as a gift.
Somehow he knew
the harpist is ill, not here
to lend graceful comfort.

The gold frame
of her instrument loiters
behind the curtain. Its strings
subtly vibrate
with the rhythmic breath
of Grizabella --
or is it Lady Griddlebone. I can't tell
but her feline presence
will assure me
the small miracle of seeming
mysterious, spellbinding
the bored critic
who almost sucks the wireless
wedge of his cell, ringtone
murmuring ---

In quella tepida notte
In quella tepida notte


Note -- The ending refrain is from an Itallian aria originally sung in the Broadway adaptation of T.S. Elliot's, Old Possum's Practical Book of Cats. It was a duet between the slender feline, Lady Griddlebone and ruffian counterpart, Growltiger. Loosely it translates to the title of this poem, "In This Balmy Night".

The painting is by artist, Fabian Perez, from his Venetian Collection.

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