Jacqueline DuPre: Second Ending

May 8, 2009 § 3 Comments

dupreFellow blogger/poet Domino invited me to participate in the Guardian’s Poetry Workshop, which features challenges from different poets monthly. I submitted to April’s, led by Christopher James. His prompt was wild, unusual and felt impossible.

His picks arrived and mine was missing! But the others he choose are lovely and quite beyond my ken. Here’s the one that got away.


Jacqueline DuPre: Second Ending



Jacqueline DuPre drew her floating bow

across the strings;

the cello’s belly writhed between her legs.

Around the wooden deck, mosquitoes hummed a 

song as thick as delta mud.


All she could think was that
Mississippi was too warm – her toes

grown mossy and yeasty center

sprouting scent.  Her hosts didn’t notice

her discomfort; they were cypress high from beer. 


Now the floating sound turned richer, lush,  

but it was not from her bow – it came

from high above, a humming – sharp

but flat. She knew it. E and B.


As her eyes rose, so did the E, turning

into F and then the B into a C,  grating nerves

like last night’s sandy oysters. She raised her voice in

protest and then – she was airborne, withered legs

a sway, body spinning like little Dorothy’s house.


(Poor Jacquie.  The platinum orb she entered was not Oz.

She often dreamed of ending there; as the Lion
found his courage and the Tin Man gained his heart,

she had hoped she might receive her walking papers.)


A squarish door drew open in the blinding sky

and something was inside. Reaching for her was
a slender hand with piano fingers – was it Dan? But no,

it couldn’t be, for it was green and this was not grace,

but a spaceship from the cinema.


Help me, she cried as her sodden hosts
stumbled to her aid; but it was useless –
they were crawfish at a boil—all heat, no meat.

Jacqueline DuPre, R.I.P.  


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