Rewind the music, cover your bones with rainbow

Sunday’s (9/17) NYT Magazine poem (p. 22), “Remaking the Music Box” by Geoffrey Hilsabeck, selected and introduced by Terrance Hayes.

Illustration by R.O. Blechman (showing two ways of looking at a rainbow):

Titles do powerful work with poems. A good one — one that casts a few shades of meaning — leaves the poet room to break free of narrative sensibility. And we readers can interpret freely in that room. I just shake my head all through this poem’s inventive imperatives. It offers the bright and idle colors of whimsy as well as the more elegiac resonances of “the roses covering your bones.” Only a fool would suggest that this is just play. It’s the only way to make a music box. It is itself the remaking of that making.

Poem: Remaking the Music Box

First unhurt the accidents.
Plant yourself in what remains
dressed in bright colors a brightly colored urn.
Hear a frequency distant, spectral.

Lay down newspaper
(like the roses covering your bones)
and drag your palm across the surface
as if it were a horse’s heaving flank.

Be proud, disagreeable, hidden, joyful, bewildered:
you’ll need a Kent to carry your rainbow, a Fool to insist that a
rainbow is just a rusty parabola.

No sadness just disaster
no meanness just thrift.
Out of nothing something and out of something
nothing: all in a day’s work.

On the contributors:

Terrance Hayes is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently “How to Be Drawn,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015. His fourth collection, “Lighthead,” won the 2010 National Book Award. Geoffrey Hilsabeck is a poet whose debut collection, “Riddles, Etc.,” will be published by The Song Cave in November.

Note on Lear, Kent, and the Fool: King Lear, Act 3 scenes 1 and 2 are set in a raging storm on the heath, in which Lear tips into madness while the Fool and Kent seek to shelter him in his madness. Scene 2 opens with Lear’s:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!

Then there are the bright colors, and death, and maybe an echo of Auden’s “Funeral Blues”: Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.

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