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6 Notes for a Mazurka

Erin Mouré
From:   Sheepish Beauty, Civilian Love. Signal Editions/Véhicule Press, April 1992. pp.113-16

If we are, it is true, without gentleness in our lives
the absolute scent of the haystack
risen from memory
wherein our arms have laboured
this haystack & the yellow smell of it
the dry smell of weeds & limpened grasses
the smell of the motorcycle ridden suddenly
into this hay

If it is true that we are without this gentleness
the strain of the lateral muscles
regulating the spine
the strain of the back, say,
lifting up the bales with work gloves
striped at the wrist
leather palms

hot day

I remember you out there
angry at me

Far behind you    the raked & cut lawn
a tea party of the empty chairs

Striped Blue

Or the work gloves striped blue lying by the door
empty absolute of their fingers the leather palms
greasy in the centre & fingers bent whistling a
famous tune "Have you ever been to Dallas" they
sing crudely & the cows moo they begin to moo
when they hear this having heard of Dallas before
I think on television they press their sides on the
fence-wire "o Dallas is a dreamer" they raise their
lips & moo


The inner noise of the body, string
of the veins & fibrous coatings, muscle
Light glinting off the shoulder, which glistens
white or red or grey
the buds having already burst out on the trees

the yard bright with flowers
& the back bent down
a piano

(As if, beautiful is this
necessary heart strain
the bead of water on the skin
how it got out

from the inside
thru the solid barrier
skin density

it trickled through & formed

they say


With a stick or hand your father played that

You yelled & ran

The neighbours closed their windows

The houses were built so close & your yells disturbed
their peaceable dwelling
the planet of their endearour
maybe their own pianos, someday

You yelled

The piano rang out


Which is why I wonder about the planetary future.
All these people playing pianos of the back
symphonic whistle behind the shoulders
it's a panic
I wonder about it
I wonder about the "panic"
If even the striped gloves are whistling
& the cows howl
& the back's ivories tremble
under the strain of the father's arm

something is fishy
Dexter Gordon is dead
there's no saxophone

Suddenly I realize what silence is
& baffle my ears

The piano keys you wear under your shirt

Walking away from me


"Go In, Now"

The inner voice in which we have trembled.
The noise of our fear that is not a tick but a squeezing
of the inner muscle
not a tick but a motion in the blood we mistake for ticking
except those of us
in whom the valve flutters

& who therefore must bow down
& shut up
after the strenuous blow
not looking anywhere

Awaiting the receipt of gentleness
a painstaking clearness

Where the chest & back meet, seamless
("You can go in, now")

A mazurka

Erin Moure's works copyright © to the author.

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