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This poem is taken from PN Review 240, Volume 44 Number 4, March - April 2018.

Four Poems Angela Leighton
Janáćek’s Notes

as he notated his daughter’s dying breaths

I time you, dearest, to the last minute now,
hold your departing to a page of notes,
scribble each phrase your breathing makes
in breves, minims, in the pause between
each catch, acciaccatura, of your breath –
its stress and start, then a rest – rest…
I hear its sparing quiet on your chest.

I time you, living, to save your breath,
Olga, Jenufa, in the world’s free air
that’s large enough to sustain the tune
we make, breathing, still lightly keeping
time for a time till, two against three,
these sudden faint syncopations misalign,
and you’re out – on a beat much wider than mine.

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