Michael T. Young

Appreciating a Sonata

If, as Goethe said, “architecture is frozen music,”
music is fluid architecture, coursing along passages
where I walk under lancet arches into a liquid room,
sit having a drink, reading our histories
sunk among a vault of coral reefs. Consider
the last movement of Prokofiev’s Sonata 7,
its industrial landscape, its cogs and wheels.
There’s a factory with conveyor belts and furnaces,
there’s a break room and someone debating
the beauty of trains traveling over frozen lakes,
the strength of iron rails and the human heart.
The way the piano is played with percussive force,
beats its power into a rise like a staircase,
a reverse waterfall twisted into a helix
ascending to the roof of Solomon’s temple,
the top tier of the hanging gardens of Babylon.
Pausing at the crescendo to take in the view
we come to something like understanding
although there are no particular words for it.
Chords beat like distant turrets of obsidian
gleaming in the first beams of sun, the way they
transform night into a vision of a cascading sky,
a ribbed dome with arches vibrating to the pluck
and turn of waking sparrows, the widening sweep
of their flight tracing pillars that border an aviary,
birdsong fading in the piano’s descending arpeggios,
nests tucked in the rafters, the last notes falling,
gathering like dust along the floor of a place so quiet
one can hear the soul stretching in its sleep.

Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. His previous collections are The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His poetry has been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, Gargoyle Magazine, One, Rattle, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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Winter 2021