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'Girls Middle School Orchestra'

April 15, 2012|By Michael Ryan
  • Author Michael Ryan.
Author Michael Ryan. (Doreen Gildroy, Houghton…)

'Girls Middle School Orchestra'

By Michael Ryan

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They're all dressed up in carmine

floor-length velvet gowns, their upswirled hair

festooned with matching ribbons:

their fresh hopes and our fond hopes for them

Infuse this sort-of-music as if happiness could actually be

each-plays-her-part-and-all-will-take-care-of-itself.

Their hearts unscarred under quartz lights

beam through the darkness in which we sit

to show us why we endured at home

the squeaking and squawking and botched notes

that now in concert are almost beautiful,

almost rendering this heartrending music

composed for an archduke who loved it so much

he spent his fortune for the musicians

who could bring it brilliantly to life.

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Director of the MFA program in poetry at UC Irvine, Michael Ryan has been praised for writing poetry full of wit and passion. His poetry often captures those smaller triumphs — and defeats — of daily life that can, if carefully considered, bring us to moments of beauty and transcendence. In "Girls Middle School Orchestra," from his new collection "This Morning: Poems" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 77 pp., $20), the springboard for such a moment begins with the sound of young hands attempting to play old music.

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