school soiree

1

the flutes will be close to adequate
we’ve heard them in practice ad nauseum
and while the winds rarely achieve greatness
there’s hope that fulsome accompaniment
might minimise any untoward sounds

strings generally work well enough
with the violins often quite proximal
to a good result thanks to the homogenising efforts
of mister suzuki
and I find it hard to believe
that the deep tones of cello or double bass
can be easily disturbed

there’s always a budding virtuoso on piano
to relieve tension and to ooh-ahh over
the overseas scholarships program
ensures the pick of the crop will be on stage tonight

now if we move fast enough and in orderly manner
there may just be time to whip around the audience
with a sharply worded petition
before the start of the guitar ensem …

too late
the first act has been called
we can only sit tight folded tight into our student desks
smile and applaud

2

this is unexpected
the guitars seem to be playing as one

tonight there have been stumbles
in woodwind and flute
piano and violin
even the cello developed a stutter
but against expectations
the guitars have emerged from the pack

over the year
we’ve watched the acoustics strum
strum strum strum strum

heard the electrics overload
and overloud

listened to the solos riffing eccentrically
through extreme notes that lack heart

but tonight the chinese boy on lead
is nodding time with his head
and I heard him say the magic words
two! three! four!
as they started to twist and shout that
you’ve really got me

the audience is just the right age
to burst into spontaneous singing accompaniment
and the guitars have cracked the first smile
I have seen from them in three long terms

well
you can certainly shake it up baby
now

3

the violin with the round spectacles has already played
he sat oblivious through the preceding acts
studying his own notes
then performed a gavotte impressively

now he’s at rest
seated on the concrete steps that rise
tier by tier
to the top row
one of a gaggle of boys
who’ve completed their programs

the last act of the night is also a gavotte
a difficult tune that’s required one restart already
all eyes are fixed on centre stage
and the performer creating the dance

the young gavottist on the steps beside me is transfixed
resting his own instrument against a leg
and holding it with one hand
as his slender fingers pick over the fingerboard
to mirror each note soundlessly
following and anticipating every move made on stage

I believe he would play again
if asked


© Frank Prem, 2002

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