“Sunday Calls,” from Chard deNiord’s collection The Double Truth, will be set to music by Jacob Cooper and featured during a May 15 concert by the chamber ensemble of the Albany Symphony.
Cooper explained that the new song will be performed by vocalist Theo Bleckmann and the symphony’s chamber group “Dogs of Desire.” This concert is part of their annual American Music Festival, and part of Cooper’s two-year residency with the Albany Symphony. “For this concert, we’re each arranging songs and writing new ones,” he said. “The song I’m arranging is Kate Bush’s ‘Under Ice,’ so I was searching for other ‘ice’ poems–looking for some kind of cohesion—and came across Chard’s ‘Sunday Calls’ on the Poetry Foundation website. I thought it was a wonderful poem and a great fit for my music.”
Friday, May 15, 2015
19 Clinton Avenue, Albany, NY
The nurse calls to tell me on Sunday evenings
how he’s doing.
How he’s holding his own in front
of the window with a thousand channels behind
the one that saves his screen with snow, fish houses,
How the days hang above the ice as vast
recycled pages on which he writes in invisible ink.
How the sun arcs across the sky, then breaks like a plate
above the horizon.
How the temperature drops
below zero at dusk, then continues to fall till morning.
In this way she teaches me how to speak to him in his sleep
at his home in Minnesota, which is the same, she says,
as talking to a friend you’ve never met, but grown close to
nonetheless from hearing his voice.
I hear the snow
falling as she holds the phone outside the window.
Silence is the sound of snow falling on snow, I think
as I listen to the flakes inside the air before she closes
“I’m thinking of walleye in their sleep,”
I tell my father.
“Of catching them as they dream,
then throwing them back in the hole I drilled by hand
with the auger you gave me as a child, whose handle is stained
with blood from my turning it so many times into the ice
of Bad Medicine.”
I wait for her voice to return, then say,
“Just this for now since any more would disappear the lake
inside his head on which he builds a house for us to fish
throughout the winter.”
Chard deNiord is the author of four poetry collections: The Double Truth, Night Mowing, Sharp Golden Thorn, and Asleep in the Fire. His poetry has appeared in The Pushcart Prize, The Best Poems from Thirty Years of the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and in numerous journals. He is professor of English and creative writing at Providence College and cofounder of the New England College MFA program in poetry.