Fairford Churchyard, Gloucestershire
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
The concert was a couple of years ago, but planes are flying over
as we read of Ukraine being a focus of global interest yet again…
Two equal partners: piano and cello
bemuse the bat-stilled, fusty atmosphere.
Birdsong, muffled bells quietly interrupt;
counterpoint the sonata’s elegance.
Grace notes, acciatura mesmerise.
I follow an elbow’s flamboyant flash,
the audience transfixed on numbing pews.
The Allegro non troppo fades away.
Mercifully, no one claps before the
Allegretto quasi Menuetto begins.
Brahms played this piano accompaniment,
so intensely, that Gansbacher complained
his cello contribution was effaced.
There is no remonstration possible
as stained windows darken and behemoths,
such as extinguished the lights of Baghdad,
ravage pale skies over Lechlade-on-Thames:
Operation Rolling Thunder, Cold War,
Desert Fox raise apocalyptic heads.
Bikini Atoll, The Vietnam War,
Syria, Kosovo, Afghanistan.
Professional musicians persevere,
as Sarajevo’s lone cellist once played.
And we carry on listening – trying
to sublimate the Stratofortress engines,
sensing we are under the Dragon Eyes,
as they loiter over the leaded roof.
Their performances lead to a Boneyard.
Brahms lovers sense there are no smart bombs,
nor are there conventional munitions.
The faint music from calm spheres in deep space
is a Wiegenleid above sonic booms
and communicates the power of peace.
Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918 (Wikipedia)
If I paint Ghost Ranch enough, then God
will give it to me. Well, that was the pact.
I loved The Black Place; those brooding Badlands
and that sun with its tonal harmony.
I strove to get to the heart of all things,
for, as Thoreau once said, Nature will bear
the closest inspection. So, I observed:
repeatedly, intensely, like Cezanne,
with his ever-changing Mont St Victoire.
I would portray Death’s bleached beauty; a cloud;
Bear Lake; Canna leaves; winter Cottonwoods;
a blue Morning Glory; arroyas’ curves.
I would prick out river beds from airplanes –
some would say from a divine perspective.
My adobe wall shut distractions out.
Every day I would draw cool well water
from my own depths; would mix it with pigment,
till horizons narrowed through declining
vision. Cerro Pedernel retreated
and my skylight became a small white dot,
an oculus to stars’ proximity.