Tonight the silence that sets thought free
would have been too much to bear. So I put on
a Beethoven quartet, picking it from the album
in the dark, by luck what I wanted, “in the Lydian
mode,” “a sacred song of thanks from one made well.”
You warned me, when the loud part came, it would wake
the others. We were in the dark since light would hurt
your eyes and would wake me too much for later sleep.
The only other sounds in the world were the icebox
motor in the kitchen and your breathing.
It was 3 a.m. I had wakened, thinking about business.
Thirsty, and tired of so much thought, I got up
to see if your fever was past. Because your mother
so fears your illnesses, I touched your back,
to be certain of your breath.
That woke you; you joined me downstairs for ice water
and your medicine. “Do you like this music,”
I asked, “or is it too sad for you?” “I like it,”
you said, “but the violin is screechy in my ear.”
We didn’t talk, just sat together in the dark.
This is a night you may remember, no matter
how deep in consciousness—the music, the silence,
the darkness, the dishes of ice cream we ate, we
the only two awake in the world, conspirators
with nothing to gain or lose tonight.
This is the music, by Beethoven: