After the waltz ends and the calliope stops,
there is still the squeak and grind of ponies,
the groan of wood and nineteenth-century
carousel mechanics. All of it floats into
the city, fills the ponds of Central Park,
which collect miscellaneous sounds,
store them in archival layers, replay them,
randomly, on quiet Sunday afternoons
in November. Sometimes, on warm September
mornings, you can hear Dvořák’s In Nature’s Realm
rising like mist off the pond where boys come
to sail model boats. If you slip quietly
into the north end of the Conservatory Garden,
the girls splashing in the fountain singing Mozart arias
will keep singing; and on windy days,
sculptures on the rooftop of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
hum like medieval monks.
Even the hotdog vendor on Fifth Avenue
whistles Brahms while he fills his trays
with white napkins someone will use
to scrawl the first notes of a symphony.
The Juilliard student who passes the stand
always whistles back.
Already he is generous with his art.
Just this morning, he brought his
mallets to the Brooklyn Bridge
and played the planked footpath
from one end to the other,
testing each board like a surgeon
checking the reflexes of a patient’s knees;
counting how many octaves
separate Brooklyn from Manhattan,
how much music one must play
to connect two boroughs at daybreak.