Machines

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer's twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante's heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn't, of course, I've fallen. So much is chance,
so much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove

Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.


from Remembering Dances Learned Last Night (Picador, 2000), copyright © Michael Donaghy 2000, used by permission of the author's estate and the publisher.

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1Caliban's Books

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2Our Life Stories

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3Irena of Alexandria

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4The Tragedies

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5Not Knowing the Words

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6The Excuse

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7Resolution

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8Tears

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9The River in Spate

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10The Drop

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11Black Ice and Rain

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12Reprimands

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13My Flu

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14Haunts

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15The Hunter's Purse

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16A Repertoire

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17A Reprieve

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18Down

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19City of God

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20Liverpool

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21The Brother

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22Held

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23Reliquary

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25Pentecost

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26Shibboleth

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27The Present

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28Southwesternmost

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29Alas, Alice

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30Refusals

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31Acts of Contrition

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32Cruising Byzantium

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33'Smith'

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34Annie

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35Local 32B

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Books by Michael Donaghy