Pausing while reading ‘Brief Pause in the Organ Recital’

Pausing while reading ‘Brief Pause in the Organ Recital’



The cloud is caught between worlds. Hovering over the man-made
Lake, tiny people gliding across it in boats and rafts like bugs,

well below other fair weather clouds drifting slowly by
Like a certain type of movie on an old TV in the background

you do not need to watch. It holds a flat gray shadow.
That kind of late arriving family looking for a place to drop

Its giant blanket on the grass leading to the shore


Tomas Transtromer, both adult and child, sits in an old church
in his poem “Brief Pause in the Organ Recital” and also in a churchyard

in a dream where he is waiting for someone. The three Transtromers,
One adrift in glowing heather, two sitting in sky blue church pews,

separate into being as the massive church organ pauses and the rumble
of traffic beyond the ancient stone walls fills in the silence. Here they wait

for some additional comprehension, an overheard whisper of an elder
Or a word in permanently capital letters like on a graveyard tombstone, only nothing

so definite as DIED, more like PERHAPS. Death is about to turn up the lights
beneath the heather– I know because I have been here before myself —

but before it can I have to pause to let a small bug wandering across page 163
find its way to the book’s bottom edge. Its legs are so small

I cannot see them but it steps over important words with no effort, doing what it does.
When it is safe I turn the page, though I know death is on the other side.



The cloud and the bug. Which is the shadow of the other?
The cloud, hanging around as if it had something to say

But kept changing so the words kept changing?
Or the bug, whose intricate pattern too small for me to see

Was the shape of a new, moving punctuation mark that means pause
While reading a poem about a brief pause that lasts two pages?

A few inches down the next page I walk a snow-covered island
with Transtromer who points out deer tracks, the imprint’s detail

lost in shadow like a blue church pew on Sunday,
like the cloud that comes closer on an overcast day.

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