Music

Original Text: 

Matt Rader. A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno. Toronto, Ontario: House of Anansi Press, 2011.

1I awoke on Veteran’s Day in the United States
2To blue skies and a republican Cali sunshine
3That made the whole town of McKinleyville
4Appear lit from the inside, as if it were its own
5Source of light, as if it still heard the sad music
6Of its first name, Minor, and heard the minor
7Third Mckinley sang when he was shot through
8The stomach and the pancreas and the kidney
9At the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York
10In nineteen hundred and one. We were talking
11Poetry, my friend and me, and what happened
12To the lake in Blue Lake after the Mad River
13Was leveed and how McKinley was the last
14Veteran of the Civil War elected President,
15How he died of gangrene because the surgeons
16Had been forced to operate by reflected sun-
17Light and could not find the bullet. We talked
18As we drove the back roads of Humbolt County
19About our faith in the persistent wellspring
20Of meaning and sang along with Springsteen,
21Headed north to the tall trees at Prarie Creek,
22Past the beachhead at Trinidad and the casino
23And the Orick gas bar, past the present moment
24Into our late afternoon beer at the Fieldbrook
25General Store where we sat in the dimness
26And recalled things that happened long before
27Us like the redwood forest and the salt marsh
28In Humbolt Bay, like the Pan-American Expo
29Where the first x-ray machine was on display
30And President McKinley reached out to shake
31The hand of a man carrying a pistol concealed
32By a hankerchief. “All my people are larger
33Bodies than mine,” my friend quoted Agee,
34“By some chance, here they are, all on this earth.”
35These are the facts as I know them. McKinley
36Died from a lack of light and the assassin
37Was executed by electricity on State Street
38In Auburn, New York, on the traditional land
39Of the Iroquois Confederacy, two weeks before
40A wrecking crew razed the Temple of Music.
RPO poem Editors: 
Jim Johnstone
RPO Edition: 
2013
Special Copyright: 

Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press, Toronto.