LATE QUARTET by Mark J. Mitchell After Shostakovich, Quartet #15 in E flat minor Op.144 “Music has the great advantage of being able to tell everything without mentioning anything." --Ilya Ehrenberg I. Elegy Adagio Ashes trapped in mirrors—cool dust Draped—redundant—over crisp glass. You reach—with slow fingers—closing Hollow notes. Everything escapes. Everything flees and your cool touch Falls hollow. There’s no thing to last— Fingers forget hard knowing— Low notes—brittle—disturb the drapes. Disturbed, you pause. Exhale. Adjust Your glasses. Mirrors draped in black Don’t fit. Smoke curls down—your coat rings— Buttons fall—frayed threads tease your nape. Teased, reflected memories clutch Space and fold time—it’s not your past Now. Shards—no longer fragile—bring Dust to light. Open windows gape. Open darkness conjures your trust— Expels secrets from broken flasks. Someone is gone—No one’s going— A mirror—here—framed in flat crepe. Attacca— II. Serenade Adagio Caught by a locket’s ghost— Kept captive by milk glass— You are no longer seeing Time—just a broken plate Dusted with silver—lost— A camera long past Light—beyond capturing Time—broken—empty—late. Attacca— III. Intermezzo Adagio Ink blots dropping from a quavering hand. Today they might carry music. They might Leave notes. Mostly they make for ruined white Pages. Something to clutter music stands. Attacca— IV. Nocturne Adagio That shelf’s slipped its mooring—eluding dust, Tilting books down and left—That mirror’s cracks Are ancient—black behind silver, blooming Lost faces, empty names. The sad shattered plates Belong to someone’s mother. Soon, you must Hand them back. Dim those lights—put off each task For now. We hide no questions—no brooding Mysteries—just cool tea, time and earthquakes. Attacca— V. Funeral March Adagio Molto A train slides along cool tracks. Crushed Cinders bounce between ties. Trees pass— Their staccato shadows carving Light into a code. Steel wheels scrape Steel rails. First class is vacant—dust Inhabits horsehair—in the last Baggage car a box is resting— Sin black—polished—its perfect shape— Long and deep—makes room—only just— For an absent body—sleek—fast On this clicking journey—bearing No one to where there’s no escape. Attacca— VI. Epilogue Adagio—Adagio Molto Days are as merciless as rust— Flaking away—forming years—pass The oil can. You must keep moving Or die—ignore your pain and scrape The oxide free. That photo—retouched— Again—off-gray, hidden by glass Rests on your bookcase obscuring A metronome you couldn’t break— Its beat still regular, if hushed Tonight. Go ahead and unmask The mirrors. Give up the nervous cleaning— Your glasses will never be clear. It’s late: Close the cabinet doors—do not adjust The locket, shift the page. Your tired past Wants rest. There’s nothing left here reflecting— Just empty sound—low notes—falling away.