For all we knew, it was a random chunk
of interstellar rock, the rear-end crash
that brought us to a halt. Dinner was out,
of course, and the Bach too, I realized,
feeling it in my neck, and standing there
in the rain, examining my totaled car,
the guilty driver soaked, in tears. The cops
were nice enough, did what they had to do
efficiently. The wrecker did show up,
eventually, and we began to cope.
And since it’s now collision story time,
the word I’m hearing in my head is ‘thud’.
There’s ‘clunk’, of course, or ‘jolt’, ‘wham-bang’, or ‘thwack’.
‘Thwack’ has that sudden, can’t-be-happening feel,
as in, “I was just sitting, reading Kant,
when suddenly, inside my head, I felt
this ‘thwack’, and everything went blank.” But no!
The word that truly bongs the knell is ‘thud’,
of impact, ‘thud’, from dice, to hand-grenade,
to asteroid. We need the stupid ‘d’
of ‘doo-doo’, ‘dodo’, ’dude’, or ‘dud’, or ‘dead’.
‘You’re-done-for-d’ is what we’re up against;
you never know when out of nowhere, ‘thud’!
But on the other hand, there’s Bach: the Bach
we missed, the works for cello solo. Bach:
initial ‘b’, a kind of plosive bump,
terminal ‘ch’, a bit of friction in
the throat, but in between the ‘b’ and ‘ch’,
the ‘ah’, release: sustained and open, ‘ah’.
Think of the bow colliding with the string,
a subtle thud, a scrape, and out floats Bach,
genial Bach-analia of dark
and light, a theory of the universe
as music: bang, and then the sarabande,
the minuet, the allemande, the gigue.