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 EventsDecember 5, 2017
ZYZZYVA Winter Issue Celebration in San Francisco
Location: 7 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
Description: Featuring a conversation with T.J. Stiles and Caille Millner exploring the themes of art and resistance. Moderated by Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free.January 12, 2018
ZYZZYVA Winter Issue Celebration in Oakland
Location: 7 p.m., East Bay Booksellers, 5433 College Ave., Oakland
Description: Featuring a conversation with Troy Jollimore, Dean Rader, and Ismail Muhammad on the theme of art and resistance. Moderated by Managing Editor Oscar Villalon. Free.February 15, 2018
ZYZZYVA East Coast All-Stars
Location: 7:30 p.m., Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton St., Brooklyn
Description: Readings by recent and Winter Issue contributors Bino A. Realuyo, Annie DeWitt, Jenny Xie, Melissa Hohl, and Kristopher Jansma. Free.
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