'Practice' - William Stafford

When you stop off at rehearsal you can stumble

and still be forgiven.  Your shadow practices.  A light

says, “Good, good,” where the piano meditates

with its wide grin, maintaining order as usual

but already trembling for time to go again.

Outside the hall a monstrous Oregon night

moans with its river of wind.  It stumbles.  Lights

flicker, and your shadow joins everything that ever

failed in the world, or triumphed unknown, alone,

wrapped in that secret mansion where genius lives.

Maybe it is all rehearsal, even when practice

ends and performance pretends to happen in the light

that remembers more than it touches, back through all

the rows and balcony tiers.  Maybe your stumbling

saves you, and that sound in the night is more than

       the wind.