Music Appreciation by Floyd Skloot
from the collection Mixed Voices, Contemporary Poems about Music, ed. Emilie Buchwald and Ruth Roston.
This is a touching poem about being forced to face a mysterious and serious illness, and finding solace and healing in listening to music.
What am I doing reading
about tone color and quality of sound?
Largo and gravé blur to adagio
and no one I know pronounces timbre
properly. I listen to the oboe
offering contrast to the amber melody of the violin.
Alone too long this winter
with the mysteries of disease,
some virus my doctors say is deep but cannot name,
I learn to listen for music. A trombone
slides from brilliant to mellow
while strings quiver. Here the crescendo
to full orchestra. I may never know
what virus this is, what brilliant cell
rewrites the entire score
my body has followed for life, throwing
its symphony into chaos. It is somber,
but I'm learning to appreciate
this new tone, the discordant sound
that accompanies vital change.
I was thinking vivace,
but find that recovery runs
at its own tempo and settle back
simply to hear the way
my being achieves its harmonies.