The sequence of events exists
                                    —Mary Jo Bang

The frustration: a convergence

that inspires the desire to remove,

or rather to find it already crumbling
from strain, from steadiness.

The hope that if isolated, leaves will give
rise to dancing trees; the fear

of the necessary wound

in even precise cutting; the fear

that removed will be the leaf

whose heart is load-bearing.


Of these leaves, retain the violin

and its orchestra, the location of the mood

here, of meditation. The violin is classical, pretty,
unrecognizable. Vivaldi or a copy, an example

of the individual all broad gestures

are reduced to. It is not the Atlas-figure

but it passes the time. It is the music

of a four-violin quartet in glass,

the sun and sounds both visible through

the medium but not moving, not able to move
the witness to tears or shame.

Function of necessary specificity: when faced
with the unknown it cannot equal

expected breadth.


Retaining the words but eliminating the voice—
excising both. Knowing what works together

and what would withstand alone, that is the difficulty
of locating awe in the conflux.

The voice, vocoded or intentionally monstrous, offends;
it points to the ugly, to the scratched-

off face before it is given eyes,

to the spatter, the smudge that will be built out

from with layers. This voice, up against spring

violins and portraits of becoming, fails to move.

It is like the singing of “men burnt at a certain degree,”
which travels already ragged through charred throats.


To locate movement is impossible:

in seeking its source, in paring down—

in trying to find stasis as the paint brush daubs, the finished
in the ongoing—something is sacrificed. To think

in two dimensions instead of three

when the third is present and not depth

but time, to think these people as unchanged

by the maturation of their walls and horses, by the visible
ink-pen, that would be easier. But not a relief.


Unanswerable, then, is the visceral

response to the one dimension that emotes,

to watching the coat become vibrant

or the fanged head replaced with the crying one,
to finding in that shift some “sense of truth.”

The presence of the immobile, the unripe,

allows the choreography of genius;

with pruning only what is left need be understood.
Paradox: isolate the face to learn

it takes shape only after its environment.

Paradox: what was cast off may be unraveling
when donned again.


Before donning the voice locate

the sense(s) in the three women

who will move themselves and their witness,

who are united in sharing the tritone

from four violins whose fingerboards still bear leaves.

All the worn eyes find in this confluence

the single pen-light above the surgery table, about to flood,
or the burgeoning dance.

Before these witnesses are drawn into their sight,
they cannot be said to be nor to hear; yearning

for sound too early they will apprehend

the forest, which they cannot un-see.
Which is too much.

When you know the time, speak.
They will close their ears,
sharpen their eyes, and attend.