After the Orchestra

in Landwash by

After the orchestra
The long silence
Sostenuto ad infinitum

Gone the trombones
Stretching their necks
To reach succulent low notes

No flocks of flutes
To feather dark skies
In shimmering arpeggios

Even the violins
So numerous their strain
Outweighed all

Are silent
And the earth sighs
Remembering

A time
When they rejoiced
In rhythms intertwined

While bright brass
Bellowed beside the waterhole
To welcome the rain

When in dry places
Punctuated by gentle footfall
On percussive sand

Caravans of kettledrums
Passed row on row
With ivory in tow

Never more
From oceans octaves deep
Such songs

Nor the wild dance
Of predatory horns
Tracking the solo oboe

Their places empty
While the wind’s whisper
Marks out empty measures

And no hand reaches
To touch the keys
Or raise the pale baton