Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TRANSLUCENT FINGERS, by MALCOLM COWLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TRANSLUCENT FINGERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Translucent fingers on the yellow keys
Last Line: To live among the other waxen flowers.
Subject(s): Beauty; Flowers; Old Age

TRANSLUCENT fingers on the yellow keys
Angelique plays
a movement from a Mendelssohn sonata
we watch a smile ghostly upon her lips
— All day she practices.
— What rhapsodies!
we say and drink our tea in noiseless sips.

— What tone she has, what soul!
— And how she works, and how her hands are clever!
(Although you still embroider for your hope-chest,
O Angelique, and though your hair is fragrant
and soft as lilacs beside you in a bowl
they will never marry you, never).

In the gilt mirror, the corners of your eyes
observe them, how they are
already drawn in patterns like your laces.
The young men died in the war.

Lamenting them forever
your hands will forever brush across the keys
like wind among the reeds, faint melodies
heard dimly like a tinkle of distant cowbells.

It ceases never
the last chord will never be resolved
but always it will hang in dusty corners
behind closed doors that nevermore swing back
and in this house will be no other mourners
only yourself among the bric-a-brac,

only yourself to live among the echoes
to watch the lace of delicate lines that spread
daily above your eyes
to watch the lilac nimbus leave your head
and fingers that grow old like ivories
and they will set you on the mantelpiece
to keep a faithful watch over your dead.

Beside a bowl of artificial fruit
beside a clock that never strikes the hours
or maybe strikes in other centuries
you will be set upon the mantelpiece
to live among the other waxen flowers.

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