John Drury


CONTRARY MOTION


                In Harmony class,
analyzing Bach, we graphed how the sopranos,
                descending, were countered
        by the basses’ upward rise,
like friends converging at a pool-hall halfway up
        or down a city hillside.
I thought of fireworks, spattering like water-bombs,
dripping past the rockets launched from an island,
        each new gusher displayed in a black lake.

                Later, in Chorus,
I painted staves between strips of masking tape,
                silent as vocal parts
        caromed against each other.
I learned to sing by shutting up.  I learned how
        lines take shape beneath the smear
of white latex, the tangling of choristers.
Ripping the ribbons off the board, I almost laughed
        at the drips, hanging like socks from taut lines.

I liked being quiet as the choir soared, following
the collision course of notes.  I even liked
        the paint leaked away from the clean
        horizontal lines.  And now, I want
both sides of any squabble, pros and cons,
to rise by the grace of cross-purposes—
                like a crumpled roof
                retimbered, beams abutting,
reaching their pitch through opposition.