My neighbor’s son, learning piano
moves his fingers through the passages
a single note at a time, each lasting an equal interval,
each of them loud, distinct,
deliberate as a camel’s walk through sand.
For him now, all is dispassion, a simple putting in place;
and so, giving equal weight to each mark in his folded-back book,
bending his head towards the difficult task,
he is like a soldier or a saint: blank-faced, and given wholly
to an obedience he does not need to understand.
He is even-handed, I think to myself,
and so, just. But in what we think of as music
there is no justice, nor in the evasive beauty of this boy,
glimpsed through his window across the lawn,
nor in what he will become, years from now, whatever he will become.
For now though, it is the same to him:
right note or wrong, he plays only for playing’s sake
through the late afternoon, through stumbling and error,
through children’s songs, Brahms, long-rehearsed, steady progressions,
as he learns the ancient laws—that human action is judgment,
each note struggling with the rest.
That justice lacking passion fails, betrays.
ZYZZYVA EventsSeptember 26, 2017
In Conversation with Matthew Zapruder
Location: 7 p.m., City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
Description: Zapruder, the award-winning author of three collections of poetry, "American Linden," "The Pajamaist," and "Come On All You Ghosts," discusses his new book, "Why Poetry?" (Ecco), with Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free. For more info: http://bit.ly/2tKf88lOctober 6, 2017
In Conversation with Akhil Sharma
Location: 12:30 p.m., Mechanics' Institute, 57 Post St., San Francisco
Description: Sharma, the author "Family Life," a New York Times Best Book of the Year and winner of the International DUBLIN Literary Award and the Folio Prize, will discuss his new book, "A Life of Adventure and Delight," with Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free for ZYZZYVA readers. More info here: http://bit.ly/2f8IfwZOctober 14, 2017
ZYZZYVA Fall All-Stars at Lit Crawl
Location: 8 p.m., Dog Eared Books, 900 Valencia St., San Francisco
Description: A reading from past, recent, and near future contributors Michael Jaime-Becerra, Suzanne Rivecca, W.S. Di Piero, Greg Sarris, and Kelly Cressio-Moller. Free. For more info: http://sched.co/BGmL
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