Weekly Poem: ‘Arias’
By Sean Thomas Dougherty
Pavoratti is dead and the streets are full of arias,
my brother. Every window a tenor leans,
there are sopranos in the olive branches.
And all across the globe the world
turns to crescendos. Along Parade Street the day passes.
The Russian women lean on their steps, discussing
the price of cabbages. The boys with tattoos
ride their skateboards, skipping curbs,
and there is a music to their wheels, a screech,
a scat and scatter, a turn table cutting La Boheme.
Pavoratti is dead and the streets of his hometown
are full of weeping, and as his casket is carried
the peoples voices speak, as when Verdi died,
and as they carried him through the streets
the people spontaneously began to sing
the slave song of the Hebrews from Nabbaco.
All the dead are rising through the olive branches.
The elms are weeping on Parade Street
where the sunlight is the color of opera.
Where my hands are holding my face,
watching the television, the streets full
of the crowd, gathering to give witness
to what burned their chests and told them
the true name of sorrow. When we weep
we are most alive. I turn off the television
and listen to Sasha upstairs. I hear her steps
dancing to a Russian pop song’s staccato.
There are arias everywhere, my brother.
Can you hear them ghosting through the laundromat steam,
with the clack of cue balls in the pool halls,
at the CITGO station when the gas glugs,
where one legged Jethro waits outside
on the curb, humming while smoking a cigarette,
he blows a halo of smoke casually into the air,
it swirls, composes notes and disappears,
like a song, a kind of blessed noise, the way music
enters us and vanishes. What remains is why we live.
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of nine books, including “Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line” (2010, BOA Editions), “Nightshift Belonging to Lorca,” a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, and “Except by Falling,” winner of the 2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize from Mesa State College.