Askold Skalasky


      (posthumous waltz by Chopin)


The melody spreads its pensive innuendos

in the major key—or is it minor?

A G leaps high into the register as if it’s found

a sudden recollection once affirmed, then left behind.


The triplets flutter like a tiny wing

yoked in three quarter time across the stave

and hovering on the edge of a mysterious sonority

sweeping the grace notes out like minute ornaments

hung on a slender thread someone has wound

around the moment’s vanishing,


almost two centuries ago, while the gray hour

drifts amid stately portraits and polished cabinets,

and the young countess with the almond eyes—

his “misfortune,” as he calls her—watches him step

into the cobbled streets lined with Dresden mansions

shuttered in the northern air. 


The last chord settles down among the flats.

Was it a minor? major?

All traces of tonality have bid farewell,

lingering in their pianissimo tracks.




More poetry from Askold Skalsky

Colloque Aux Folies Bergere
The Persistence Of Summer
Elephant Herds
Testing Time


Askold Skalasky is a former community college professor, whose poems have appeared in numerous small press magazines and journals, most recently in freefall and The Dos Passos Review.

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