New poem: How it Slipped Away

In my dream a slender young woman
with short black hair and large dark eyes,
wearing a loose black caftan with flowers
picked out upon it in embroidery floss–
green, blue, purple, yellow and red–
perched upon the railway ticket counter
and sang to the clerk this astonishing song.

Its melody was devastatingly sweet.
The verses–well-turned, heartful–
broke to a soaring chorus, and once
to a meandering bridge that found its way
back to tonic through an odd modal twist.
The many stanzas slipped from memory
as soon as sung, and the yellow cheat sheet,
to which she twice referred, was a scribble.

Waking near to tears, the shape of the tune
at least remained. But I couldn’t keep hold,
having neither staff paper nor aptitude
for musical notation. Nor could I have sung
the thing, lacking range and a proper grasp
of relative pitch. So vision outstrips strength,
and now even the gist is lost, leaving only this.


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