He is a regular Falstaffian sixth grader
with bulbous, sweaty digits clasping hard
the cymbals’ handles, and his smile
at his small partner—made smaller by the bright timpani
before him—implies a class-clownery bubbling
just beneath the taught surface of performance fear.
There is a tension between his desire to fill
the air with a crash at just the right moment
and the deeper desire just to fill the air
with a crash at any time. The world
is not enough for the kind of teacher this woman
is to have placed such a boy in such a place
for such a time as this, and, for the first time
in his life, he watches her closely, her bobbing hands
before the sheet music stand, while he waits for his time.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, a newlywed couple
of an arranged marriage bump clumsily
in the half-light of a swelling dawn.
Cover image by Jeffrey Hamilton