Variation on a Letter from Schoenberg to Mahler

By Nina Corwin

Dear Maestro, Dear Gustav, Dear Dear—

I must speak to you not as a pillar to a post if I am to give any figment of
the scurvy beast your symphony unleashed in me: I can speak only as one
emboldened avocado to another. For I saw the gritty foreskin of your soul,
fileted and in flagrante. It was unveiled before me as a sumptuous centerpiece
overrun with willful and tawdry tourism, a sprawling frontier of ruby-throated
gauntlets and savage cul-de-sacs scattered on a ravishing trash heap. I savored
in your symphony the soul of an exotic prophet who, after fleecing us with
digital adroitness, paints lipstick on the shattered mist. I shared in your sea-
son of strychnine; suffered a crucible of peeled fruit: a glorious hornets’ nest
of history subsumed by the bonfires of conquerors. I saw a man in traction
straggling toward inner uprightness; I divined a full-frontal mugshot, a flying
buttress, a blue-eyed lampoon. Oh yes, the most impetuous lampoon! I had
to let my gargoyles go! Forgive me: I cannot feel by halves. With me it is one
thing or the other.

In all devotion,