NOTE, TO THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT
(Magic Flute, Metropolitan Opera, 2014)
I want to know
as this last of so many curtains
falls on spangled shapes; pin spots; bright moon
shafts piercing velvet dark -- why is it you
who gets the song: that dazzling string
of glorious a capella pearls, flung
at the hall like a great expanding necklace
radiant with power, whose
words reek murderous revenge?
The sun may win, dissolving your deep night
yet it’s your doubled theme that stays.
Beneath the mumbo-jumbo of the play
the score speaks clear -- I want to know
if you suspect (as you press on in your
ferocious quest, soaring past lunar notes
to that fierce B) the gift is retrograde:
all surfaces deceive. To be fulfilled
a self transcending self must be achieved.
Version first published as Poem of the Week, Poetica Magazine, 10 August 2015; reprinted in Man Overboard (2018)