The Organ

At 60 I return to music I wrestled with at 16 –
as difficult now as it ever was to coordinate
feet and hands, three independent narratives
each competing for bandwidth in the brain. More to the point,

these very copies, scrawled with fingering and stuck together
with archaic tape represent everything I hoped for;
my only way of speaking to an indifferent world.
In every annotation, anguish; in every chord the latent

power to obliterate all opposing voices.
Then my life began to change. Slowly the stone & iron
that held my will, rigid as a stained-glass window, cracked.
Love, a sprouting weed, got its fingers round the panes.

Whatever drove me to find expression within the deafening fury
yields to silence as the tremendous reverberations slowly
create a kind of empowered peace. Perhaps all that noise was necess’ry?
It certainly helps with teaching – what pupil so rebarbative as I?

At àll events, here I am, at the console of my first love –
she the tubby widow in whom Berlioz sought to rediscover
the heedless Estelle whose youthful certainty he’d worshipped –
with printed pages shouting still of ancient contradictions.

Have I the energy, I ask, to relive the challenge
of confronting not just my physical inadequacies
but also all the hopeless memories encoded in
this battle-scarred music that, so long ago, I seemed to have conquered? 

A poem on my birthday 22/11/05

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