The National Catholic Review
Rebecca Rotert

I pull my wool sweater on over my nightgown
and open the door. The willows move lightly in the bright
October air, the coffee steams lazily, the newspaper
sits thick and promising on the kitchen table,
and Imogen Cooper plays Brahms on the radio.

Late Brahms, she says. And it has so much heart, so much emotion,
that it surprises her. It shouldn’t surprise, she adds,
his private life having been so—she pauses—difficult.
Her English tongue hits the consonants of the word gently, but decidedly,
like the soft mallets deep in the bed of the concert grand.

Brahms could have been a lover of hers
the way she plays him, the ease with which her fingers
tell his private story.

At the end of the Third Intermezzo
you can hear her ache for him, so long gone and dead,
you can hear her hands stretch and seek him,
as if in sleep,
and he, so newly disappeared
from their common, private life.

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