Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 16 . . .


     by Robert Wexelblatt

Raindrops strike the island leaves like toddlers'
fingers on innumerable keys:
passion piano, fury forte. In her
bedroom his mistress uncrosses her legs,
lights up a cigar, and scribbles another
thirty pages on free love—to put down
her conscience perhaps, because, comme les bourgeois,
she believes productivity justifies

     Chopin had small hands, but then the keys
were smaller too.  When did pianos grow big
keys, and why?  The way Rubinstein plays you
think this has got to be what Chopin heard
as he sat, coughing and calculating,
heard with full heart just before, with precise
pen, he set down these diaphanous dances
for Franco-Polish nymphs.

                                       The first he wrote
in mother's Warsaw, three years before he
moved to papa's Paris to triumph as
the delicate lion of the salons,
irresistible with his comme-il-faut
name and accent séduisant. Twenty years
later came the last.  A whole career of
moods realized for the rising breasts of
les femmes romantiques, those for whom mornings
are banal, erecting iron armatures
festooned with feathers.

                                     The beauty of illness
is rarified but persuasive. Is it
the fatality of his sickness we
hear that makes health feel coarse and daylight crude?

Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play, and the novel Zublinka Among Women, winner of the First Prize for Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2008.

© 2010 Robert Wexelblatt