Night Music

From a quarter mile away,

the notes of the nearest neighbor’s bamboo

wind chime arrive from time to time.

Never the tock of the clapper, only the soft,

 

otherworldly bells.  Swollen sharp and fallen flat,

they are five notes become a chord and a key

for which there is no signature

that would not diminish their music.

 

As for the next other neighbor downwind,

I wonder if he hears them at all,

or hears them along with the wind harp

I made from an old cracked-back guitar,

 

hung from the spar of a long-dead pine

on the leeward side of the house.

The nests the birds have built in it

over the years, once its E and B strings broke

 

and offered entrance to its body, have muted it,

and its bottom-heavy chords bong

only when its hip strikes the trunk.

But such breezes as there are tonight

 

would only blow across its sound hole,

making a soft, intermittent, bassoony moan

we cannot hear, being upwind.  As for that neighbor,

he has aligned across his porch rail

 

a rank of wine bottles the same wind must lip.

Each holds a slightly different level of water,

and downwind of us all, at the pond

where the animals come to drink,

 

their ears honed to the least of sounds,

the deer must have listened in silence, and the coyotes,

in the stained glass light of the rising moon,

now enter the tabernacle, singing.

About Robert Wrigley:
Robert Wrigley teaches at the University of Idaho. Penguin will publish his ninth book, Anatomy of Melancholy & Other Poems, in April 2013. In March, Bloodaxe Books will publish The Church of Omnivorous Light: Selected Poems in the UK. He lives in the woods with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.