National Poetry Month 2016: April 5th, Rita Dove

Transit

By Rita Dove, 1952

If music be the food of love, play on.
—Alice Herz-Sommer, survivor of the Theresienstadt ghetto / concentration camp

This is the house that music built:
each note a fingertip’s purchase,
rung upon rung laddering

across the unspeakable world.
As for those other shrill facades,
rigged-for-a-day porticos

composed to soothe regiments
of eyes, guilt-reddened,
lining the parade route

(horn flash, woodwind wail) . . .
well, let them cheer.
I won’t speak judgment on

the black water passing for coffee,
white water for soup.
We supped instead each night

on Chopin—hummed our grief-
soaked lullabies to the rapture
rippling through. Let it be said

while in the midst of horror
we fed on beauty—and that,
my love, is what sustained us.

Source material from the Academy of American Poets.

dove-r09

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