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How could he tell them that it was not silence,the silence that claimed him even as their song soared toward God?How could he tell them the flame that filled himbrooked no broken voice, and of a suddenbrokenness was all he was?

Somewhere in the seam between myth and memoryis the conductor's professional, almost imperceptiblepause, his banked rage of disbelief;the whisper-hiss traveling through the audience like a fuse;and a song that ended for everyone but one,whose career collapsed the instant his real gift emerged.

Amid a moment's most minor, most easily-losable keys—the leash clinks and the ice clicks,the handslap on the back of the trash truck that meansthis stink can move—amid the cold calls and the catcalls and the callsthat you want and do not want to befrom a living God,

consider the soloist of silence,who, while he walks his block nodding to each neighbor,and stirs his stew to an only-and-ever-more-inward whistle,and sits rocklike in his pew for the responsorial psalm,keeps faith with the one moment in his lifewhen he had it. [End Page 103]

Christian Wiman

Christian Wiman is the author of ten books, including a recently edited volume, Joy: 100 Poems (2017) and Hammer Is the Prayer: Selected Poems (2017). His memoir, My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer (2013), has been widely praised, and his volume Every Riven Thing (2010) won the Ambassador Book Award in Poetry. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including The Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker and The Sewanee Review. From 2003 to 2013, he was editor of Poetry magazine; he currently teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.

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