Now I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration
(that was part and parcel of God)
as I call Nature and the words of Jesus
Christ as they are, printed in red.
Such was the cacophony and calamity
of the burning instrument, sounding like a harp
strummed by strikes of wind and fire—
(no plinking toy, as the piano’s wire strings
mimicked the sound of the Celestial Spheres
grinding against the Great Chain)—
sea winds, not fingers, fanned the flames.
(Though to us it sounded as if someone played.)
The hottest flames produced the highest notes.
And blasts of sand made percussion of the keys.
Loose sands plucked grace notes on the strings.

It was not the music of this world.

The piano—burning in stages and in parts—
made more complex music than earth had ever heard.
Its upright lid crashed down in an explosion
of crazy fireballs the piney woods sucked in.
Sprung wires snapped and echoed in the updrafts—
they made a whining sound jerking in the air,
like the mourning of a hundred violins.
In the middle of such chaos, the Gnostic Jesus said,
“If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you.
If you have nothing within you, you will die.”
The burning piano made such music the entire time—
burning in its sandy centrifuge, it made a Dresden
of its fire hole as the diurnal tide came in.
Water changed the tonal quality of the sound,
and softened what was a sustained fortissimo.
Some said the waves themselves then played the keys,
but by midnight the instrument was mostly gone.
Tides still breathed through the strings, like an underwater harp
resembling an accordioned filter-plate of baleen.