Mark Dow


First. No, no, 
I’m wrong, right? Sorry about that. So back 
to measure one-nine-five. Back to the cello. The cello: 
one —

			Six before the end you have half-notes, right? 
			You’re leading then. So let’s go back to nine 
			before the end. That’s 296, such a 
			pretty D-major arpeggio. The scherzo 
			should probably be faster but I can’t do it. 
			We’ll all end up together anyway.

Second. Sorry,     
can we go back to B? This says 
accelerando. What happens I think is 
after the ritard — but no, it shouldn’t drag that 
much, though. Let’s go back to twenty-nine. 
Wasn’t Borodin a chemist? Anyway, let’s 
go back to twenty-nine.

			Pick it up at 100. It’s about 
			to get a lot nastier now, for me I mean. 
			Is this the double forte? Let’s start at 
			the fourth bar after that so I don’t 
			have to have a page-turn there. 

The viola has something important
at 96 through 99 and then
I answer at 100. It looks 
like a student numbered these on mine 
and got it wrong. So: measure 100. 
You kidding me? I can’t play this. Just play 
real soft and hope someone else has the melody there.

			What does calando mean? Slower, quieter, fading 
			out. Does it say calando on your pizzicato too? 
			So it does get slower there. And that recording does
			that too? Goes back to the first tempo? Cleveland 
			Quartet. Pretty nice, I think. This piece is
			all about the cello but I’m fine with that.

Third. Let’s do it one 
more time. That’s just 
excruciatingly high, and I 
can’t get my fingers close 
enough together. This damn 
arthritis. Sorry, wait, I’m 
off. I’m off. Seems 
right. Who’s supposed 
to push it, though? Let’s see 
what happens right at B.
One, two, and —

			I’m not sure what key we’re even in here. 
			Forget the whole concept of key here, 
			Allyson. OK, from C. Cello again.

Do those harmonies make 
sense to you? They make 
no sense to my ear. You 
can’t explain them. You’d 
think in the viola he’d just 
end with that dying out but 
then he comes down a fifth. 
I can’t explain it. It had 
to go down or it’s not 
finished. It goes down because 
the cello’s up here, so you 
go to the fundamental.

			Fourth. Am I 
			playing forte when you’re playing 
			piano? Was that right? Where do I come 
			in? Measure 40. You come in in 
			the second half of that measure. It’s one, 
			two, one — no, one and two and 
			one: vivace.

All these incidentals and no fingerings. Look at this.
I’m just trying to find the patterns to play. I’m just 
gonna drop out and play softly because I simply 
can’t play this. I don’t even know what notes these are.

Mark Dow is the author of Plain Talk Rising (poems), American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons, and the Mudlark Chap Feedback and Other Conversation Poems (2015).

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