Thursday, March 20, 2014

Poem, Daughters of Cecilia: Renata Tebaldi

Renata Tebaldi

I'll go alone and far as the echo from the churchbell. There, amid the white snow; there, amid the clouds of gold—there where the earth appears as but a recollection.
    — La Wally

I drive the length of Oregon. The radio slaps me with a four-word sentence. I stop at the Shakespeare festival, trekking the Christmas-lit streets for a latte, rubbing a jigsaw piece between my fingers.

This grieving makes no sense. I don't know you. Everything you've given me is locked away on vinyl and aluminum. My loss is precisely nothing.

But once, you took hold of my tangled hearing, and untied the knots.

Jenny sits at the kitchen table, her eyes growing wide. You've never heard Tebaldi? She reaches for the stereo: an impossibly broad soprano voice, constructed of butter, an aircraft carrier tracing cadenzas like a speedboat.

She tells me you're alive, residing in Italy. This does not seem possible.

I have made no secret of my fixation. My friends will send condolences, as if I have lost a favorite aunt. I will read reports of you at San Marino, breathing your last, one eye on the hills.

On the night of four words, I scale the Siskiyous, strangely energized, the roadsides patching with snow. My head fills with Catalani, Renata loosing her dovish triplets as she climbs the white mountains, untethered.

First published in 

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