Poem introduction

I wanted to write a series of poems about memories that are not quite memories, memories that are almost forgotten but play themselves out in your mind like film but without necessarily a firm basis. Amongst these poems is a group which deals with early objects - the things that you first noticed as a child and 'Piano' refers to a piano we somehow came to possess in a flat in Budapest.

Piano

Piano

It's a baby grand with unexceptionable teeth
And a butterfly wing caught in the net curtain.
When touched it answers gently as a breath

Of cold wind, a sensualist in a puritan
Country. It is a hybrid creature with only
Three legs and a faint ephemeral grin,

With feminine curves, a gorgeous womanly
Voluptuousness. It seems almost indecent
To be sitting beneath her, guilty and lonely,

Ignorant of the role she will play. The cresent
Of her one hip is a shelter and the gloss
Of her body temptation. Concupiscent

Discords swell into proper fifths, zealous
Arpeggios clamber over her. Learning
Her vast bourgeois temperament is the cross

A child must bear as she stands burning
In the summer sun. And Chopin and Bartok
Can be enticed from her with their strut and yearning.

You must woo her carefully with wealth and work,
Until one day, like the butterfly she is,
She shrugs and vanishes into the sudden dark

Of history and other shady business.


from Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004), copyright © George Szirtes 2004, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Recordings

George Szirtes Reading from his poems

1The Accordionist

2Losing

3The Photographer in Winter 1

4The Swimmers

5Rain

6National Anthem

7Soil

8Pearl Grey

9Copper Brown

10Keighley

11Orgreave

12Preston North End

13Death by Meteor

14Noir

15Meeting Austerlitz

16Piano

17Comical Roses in a Cubic Vase

18Water

19Prayer for my Daughter

Books by George Szirtes