Brahms


Page, Geoff, Antipodes


My parents had decided that

I'd do Grade 2 in town,

my stint with correspondence school,

its saddlebags and copperplate,

having run its course -

though every now and then

they'd take me back for weekends.

On sale day afternoons maybe

they'd drop by at my aunt and uncle's

to see how I was doing

and, as they left, I'd try my best

to not pursue the Buick,

crying down the drive.

All that, of course, is not "Nostalgia,"

the Greek word that appears when I

recall Miss Gillette and the way

she had us standing up to sing

a version of Brahms' "Lullaby"

to mark the end of day.

Already, she'd bequeathed us

that sense of looking back-

not to babyhood exactly

but something irretrievably

abandoned to the past

albeit brief by then.

"Nostalgia" was already

my other life out on the station,

two parents at the evening meal

and siblings of my own.

The slow climb of that melody,

its yearning repetitions,

had something else as well,

further back and deeper down.

Brahms wrote it for a woman whom

he once had been in love with

to celebrate the son

she'd borne to someone else. …

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