Volume 23, Number 4

“Toward an Animal Model of PTSD”
—Name of study at the Max Planck Institute

When I play
the String Quartet
No. 1
“Already It Is Dusk”
by the Polish composer
Henryk Górecki,
b. 1933,

I can feel
in its dissonant veers,
its grace-lulls
of spare refuge

the composer
not as an old man
surrounded by reams of music
in his quiet, comfortable home
near the gleeful ski buffs
of Zakopane

but as a boy of war
& occupation
who darts all shivering
from cold-comfort ruin
to ruin to ruin to ruin.

And my guinea pig
who was rescued
skinny and frantic,
from his abandonment

into an inedible,
parched wilderness
of plastic furniture
and chilly floor tiles,
that is, a vacant
college classroom,

who was rescued
from a half-decipherable

my guinea pig
who plumps, jumps,
and burbles for joy
to have his own hay dish,
water bottle,
and warmblooded

he flinches,
he purtles
and shudders
in a plain fright
of nonverbal

the music
of his human-
blasted kingdom
it answers,
Oh Our God,
all the String Quartet
No. 1
by Henryk Górecki,
b. 1933,
it answers.

For Giovanni, 2004?–2009

—Mary Krane Derr