The Case for Punctuation
Periods are gods, semicolons angels, the commas
their wings. It’s the words that are always wrong,
sinful and broken, intoxicatingly other than what
is meant. What does the wound remember?
this morning, low tide, the gulls
gliding over the water—
is wrong, but the commas are wings, line breaks
the days of creation:
and now the geese, rising as one
to suture the sky—
Periods are gods, the em-dash their prophet, words
the pilgrims on their knees, asking to be forgiven.
András Schiff, After Playing the Preludes Of Johann Sebastian Bach, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
The hall was here before I played,
so when I say I built the hall, think of the clay
God scoops up, blows breath into
and it becomes a man,
but space not breath, a depth
not there before I played
that holds the whole place up, the piano
my T-square for sounding the deep.
Architecture. The soul’s too free without it
to do us mortal bodies any good,
born back to dirty silence
as the G major fades.
I tried to make it last, slowly lifting my hand,
but people had to pee and catch a train.