piano

No Fingerprints!

I was on holiday in Europe with a group of friends who I didn't know very well, and my mother. One of my friends was gay, and the others were trying to set me up with him because they thought that I was gay too. I'd been going along with it for some reason, but I didn't want to do anything with him. We were in Amsterdam in a dark coffeehouse/nightclub, and we were just leaving when I decided to go to the toilet, and the guy followed me, and stood too close to me at the urinals. On the way back I knew he was checking out my ass, and it made me self-conscious, so I walked faster, pushing past people, as if I was putting on some kind of tough-guy performance.

When we left the coffeehouse we suddenly found ourselves in Paris. We wanted to go sightseeing, and the first place we went to was a huge art gallery which looked exactly like the Louvre, but for some reason I thought there was a way to get into 'the Louvre' from inside this place. I wanted to spend the day in the Louvre but no one else did, because they said they would get too tired from walking, and their necks would be too tired from craning to look at all the paintings and statues.

One of my friends and I split off from the others to look for 'the chapel of Camille Saint-Saens', a small chapel the size of a suitcase built by a priest of that name. On the way there we climbed weird off-kilter marble staircases and passed through huge rooms filled with paintings and artifacts. Every room was decorated like a palace. We couldn't find the chapel.

Eventually we emerged into a gigantic two-level gallery full of tourists. On the bottom level, in the centre of the floor, the famous pianist Evgeny Kissin was playing the biggest grand piano I had ever seen. It was dark brown, and so perfectly polished that he would glare at anyone who approached him to try and touch it. "No fingerprints!" As he reached the climax of the piece he was playing, his head tilted upwards so that I could see his face. His eyes were closed and he was grinning. When he finished, everyone clapped, and he bowed and smiled broadly, and said "The genius Mozart will play again at 4pm tomorrow!".

Shine

today a feeling too big for words
something in the spiral of bare branches
against a cold cloudy sky
or the clusters of red berries in a hedge
that parts to show a stone step
where a ginger cat sleeps and eats food
that people bring him, every day, in tinfoil
and owned by no one he grows fat

a film about an insane pianist
blue sky for him too, and music big enough
for feeling but no room for rest
everything gone out of him but him
and walking out of the cinema I was clean
washed bare for the touch of sunlight
naked baby ready to be made into memory

in the morning it rained and the paths were dark
then it was sunny and they steamed
and pigeons waddled over the cobblestones
and when I stopped trying to talk
there was room in the silence for feelings -
the taste of stale bread and ham, lukewarm tea
dripping over my fingers to the ground
I don't want there to be an end or not to be an end

nothing but this