Poetry from NHI publications

Moscow, short of many things —
tea, toilet rolls, paraffin,
also has a lack of strings
for my step-daughter's violin,

but another running stitch
from London, the flights
that sew this patchwork marriage,
can bring such things.

"Where did you get them?" she asks
settling to the duet. The prosaic answer
"A shop in Camden Town"
brings a look of wonder.

Julia, at twelve, has waited
for so long she hesitates
to lift the instrument's frail curves
from its shell and fit them to her own.

Her Mother, at the piano,
high-strung from the day's
confusions, cheeks still hectic,
beats a tensioned wrist in time.

And I can only watch this
concentrated act. So much is wrong,
but she must get this right - harmonise
this Mozart, this Scriabin.

A tempo of change and endurance
floods at her pulse while I sit,
knowing nothing but where
to get strings in Camden Town.

Able to do nothing but breathe
to the music. Looking from mother
to daughter. Breathing.
Breathing deep as I can for three.

Wolf on the Third Floor
ISBN 0 903610 25 6

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