Notes nod like ornamental papal heads
on his mental staff – if at three a child
writes a minuet with a stately thread,
what will he do at fourteen? Quiet, mild,
he sits with his parents in the Chapel
as candles are extinguished one by one,
here to pick Allegri’s golden apple.
Secret of Rome, the last flame is hidden.
On this sacred family holiday,
the veiled falsobordone miracle,
bar by bar, prints its nine-fold harmony
to his brain. A harmless prank. Critical
voices are silenced. The Psalm comes to light
as Wednesday’s dusk rolls itself into night.

(First published in Poetry Salzburg Review, Summer 2016)

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