An Opera With No Libretto

By GEORGE LOONEY

 

This rough bark’s gray, lit up, separated

from the dark by some distant lamp.

 

A single wren collapses into its own

admonishment of grays. A still life, this

 

study of the loss of color that accompanies

the diminishment of light. The visible,

 

fading, makes us long for color enough

to make it more than memory. It is

 

winter, yet two women embraced by this

tree an hour before, the light going,

 

defining desire. Definition’s no stand-in

for description. The women have left

 

one another with the memory of the warmth

of another body. Familiar.

 

No collapse of music could get close enough

to touch this. No wren could sing two notes

 

that could hold one another the way

those women embraced, fog an absolution,

 

the easy collapse of flesh against flesh

a slow psalm a solemn choir sings

 

while others swallow the host. Confession

is just the beginning. Desire is

 

no one note wonder but an opera

with no single libretto, signification

 

gone berserk, a throat’s dark hollow

resonant with the depths needed to bring

 

one note to the kind of life those women

lived so fully and so well beside

 

that bark so gray it could have been a column

of ash, almost the body of a woman.

 

 

George Looney‘s books include Monks Beginning to Waltz, A Short Bestiary of Love and Madness, Open Between Us, The Precarious Rhetoric of Angels, Attendant Ghosts, Animals Housed in the Pleasure of Flesh, and the 2008 novella Hymn of Ash. 

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