This ancient upright's dark enamelled mass
Is anchor and established precedence,
And as small country churches build around
The towering pipes of old world instruments,
Our after-suppers compass the bright sound
Of Johnny at his exercises, heard
Through clash of silverware and clink of glass,
As coughers in their pews attend the Word.
Blessed are his hands, his convoluted ear
That knows the left hand knows not what the
Is doing, till they both be blessed again
With synchronism garnered overnight.
The darkling notes are constellated then.
The songs of buried men rise through our boy
And, lifted from the clatter, we can hear
What death's denied, the simple Ode to Joy.
© 2000 Alfred Nicol; originally printed in Pivot.
Reprinted by permission of the author.