The hardest test they leave until the end.
But there is no age in these notes of Bach
making their way through two floors to the basement,
unless it be in the feeling way they waver
and pause, testing the extent of silence,
stepping respectfully over blankness
like a walker crossing the first autumn
ice or the ice of a suspected spring.
All of the player’s seventy-nine years,
her husband’s death at ninety-nine and her flight
across continents “to be with others”—
it is all in her submission to and
acceptance of these gaps, the embrace
the old give, since they must, to stopped places.
Otherwise her playing might be taken
for her granddaughter’s, lately practising
the same invention, except the latter’s halts,
being external to her intent, are surly,
faltering forming no part yet of what she knows,
and she rushes to repair them as she should,
leaping the rest no composer asked for
to catch the dropped melody, learning to read.