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I would like to leave the page
blank but I´m afraid
it would all be misunderstood
or, worse, forgotten.
It´s late and the clock is ticking,
the dog snores,
and the pencil, well, it seems to have
a mind of its own, like a music box
wound up. I had one once,
a gift from my mother–
the key turned
and turned and notes
fell into my ears or rose to them
if the box was in my hand,
say, waist-level in my hand,
where it sat inanimate and yet alive
with feeling and warmth,
its smooth wooden lid
not yet stained with age.
I didn´t recognize its tune then,
an incantation from a time
before my time,
a Romantic etude perhaps,
or a variation on a Neoclassical
theme, an homage to a past
that now is mine,
my mother´s voice
a music teacher´s slow
tick-tocking lesson on pacing
and interpretation, one
then another turning into
sound, lesson and memory
turning into sound and meaning
nothing more than that,
nothing more than sound.
I close the lid, the notes
more than I can bear.

Cory Brown grew up in western Oklahoma raising cattle and now lives in upstate New York, teaching at Ithaca College. He studied at Oklahoma State and then Cornell University. His second collection, Poems 1986-1998, is from Water Street Press; his first, from Swallow's Tale Press. He has poems forthcoming in The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, and Rosebud Magazine.

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