In music I can love the small failures,
the ones which show how difficult it is:
the young guitarist's fingers slipping,
for an instant, from their climb of chords.
He sits alone on the stage, bright light,
one leg wedged up on a step, his raised knee
round and tender, and the notes like birds
from a vanishing flock, each one more exquisite and lonely;
the fingers part of the hand, yet separate from the hand,
each living muscle married to the whole.
In life the failures feel like they'll kill me,
or you will, or we'll kill each other;
it's so hard to feel the music
moving through us, the larger patterns
of river and mountain, where damage is not separate
from creation, transformation;
where every mistake we make can wash
smooth and clean as stones in water,
then land on shore, then be thrown in again.
I want to sleep, like a stone, for a thousand years.
I want to wake with creatures traced smooth on my skin.
I want to forget I loved you and failed you
as you failed and loved me too, in the lengthy, painful
evolution of our kind; I want to sleep
for a thousand years, then wake up in some other world
where failure is part of the music, and seen
to make it more beautiful; where the fingers
forgive each other; where we can sit naked again
at the window, watch the notes fly by like birds
who have finally found their way home.
Photography credit: "Close Up Shot of Musician Leadbelly, aka Huddie Ledbetter's Hands While Playing Acoustic Guitar," by Bernard Hoffman (originally black and white).