Sempre Libera

The melody takes her 
from small speakers by a courtyard window. 
The leaves are changing and she can’t 
understand why. A man of eighty, 
his room across from hers
so that he watches every morning
as she tiptoes toward the ballroom,
believing she is sneaking out
of her long-dead mother’s house, 
this man who says he loves her, 
though he can’t remember her name,
approaches now to whisper
it’s October and they should walk
the grounds. The colors,
he reminds her, are beautiful. 
She doesn’t know what to call him,
but asks if he’ll sing. 
While we walk, he promises,
I’ll sing what you like.

Under canopies of honeys, ochres, scarlets
the gray of his voice dulls her 
so she covers it with timbres,
of men who carried her
on clarion tenor and burly baritone.
She even dreams sopranos.
She dreams herself 
as all of them in one,
in that singular role 
composed for coloratura,
lyric, dramatic, quasi-mezzo,
The woman fallen like leaves
that coat the garden path
as she walks ahead of him, 
undying child of the moment.

She walks ahead of them,
the suitor, aides and visitors.
Through crescendo from
a hidden pit, the pleasure
of cadence, a best medicine, 
wordless toast she raises to the trees
waltzing alone, descending
into the aisle, leading the troupe.
Who is it she should kiss?
The kiss to play that word  
for someone handsome singing 
to you and the universe.
The universe. A word she knows 
without knowing. She gives it up.
Remembers it is not 
a simple feeling for a man.
It is these sounds—as ghosts
come calling her back inside—
that tell her thoughts, Fly, fly.


George Guida is the author of ten books, most recently the poetry collections Zen of Pop (Long Sky Media, 2020) and New York and Other Lovers (Rev. Ed, Encircle Publications, 2020), and the novel Posts from Suburbia (2022).

Back to Issue: Spring 2022