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On Rhapsody in Blue

- Each time I hear the siren call of the clarinet,
I forget the boy in eighth grade
who jinxed me with a slap.
Suddenly I see him, Gershwin,
wand thin in his tux, bowing,
his nimble legs stretching as he sits
on the piano bench.
One foot reaches the pedal
while the other taps,
keeping time with the rhythm
in his head.
And what happens next
is a mystery.
Fingers sprawl across black and white keys,
thump out a melody
that unhinges all others.
Carnegie Hall is a maze
of lights. I listen, listen—to an allegro
of notes skidding
across the keyboard.
Faces whirr
by as the piano roll holds sway.
Clara Bow, Joan Crawford,
Norma Shearer, Garbo—
flap, furious as bats
to the trills.
Whenever I imagine the sheen
of a Boston train shifting
in the wind,
I also conjure Gershwin
charting notes with his pen.
And when the great cymbals clash,
I become the woman
who can’t say no
to dancing barefoot across a bridge.
But then Gershwin slows everything
down again—
decrescendo in my veins.