A Night at the Opera, 1975

by David J. Daniels

“Plus, I wouldn’t,” he went on warning, “dive
                into that bit about Queen
too soon,” giving a jerky heave
                to his rake to uproot a flower mound,

my brother, who seemed pure muscle
                to me as he toiled in the yard. As he toiled
out near the golf links fence, dividing thistle
                from a rock bed, and rocks from the soil.

1983, I’d guess, and I’d just stumbled upon a link
                between Auden’s elegy to Yeats, wherein ‘The mercury
sank in the mouth of the dying
                day’ and, wouldn’t you guess it, Freddie Mercury;

the next day at school, I’d be giving a speech
                precisely upon the matter:
upon Auden’s ‘wolves,’ which
                howled like ‘the multitude there’

from Queen’s “The Prophet’s Song,”
                upon Auden’s ‘snow’ that ‘disfigured
the public statues’ not a bit unlike Brian May’s ‘love gone
                stale,’ not to mention, as I far as I figured

it, his ‘ice cold hearts’ or ‘the cold of night.’ Then, my brother added,
                “As far as the ‘nurses and rumours’
part goes, or that ‘silence’ that ‘invaded
                the suburbs,’ you’re better off using Rumours.”

Rumours, of course, by Fleetwood Mac
                who (in 1984, when The Smiths
came on the scene) my brother would turn his back
                on entirely, just as he’d do to The Smiths

in favor of—wouldn’t you know it—
                Queen, in that unforeseen boost in sales
they enjoyed on the death of Mercury, lacking all muscle, whose face my brother lit
                fire to later, a psychedelic poster, the details

of which, as a family, we still
                debate. Though it’s safe to assume
my brother felt somewhat ‘in the cell
                of himself’ and ‘convinced of his own freedom.’

DAVID J DANIELS has work appearing in Boston Review, Pleiades, and Gulf Coast. He is the author of two collections: Breakfast in the Suburbs (a chapbook, 2012, Seven Kitchens Press) and Clean (forthcoming, 2014, Four Way Books Intro Prize). He teaches in the University Writing Program at the University of Denver.