I was not fooled by his attention seeking ways,
the daft essays, his thing for Petula Clarke,
the out-of-tune humming as he played,
not to mention the hand-washing routines,
the farcically slow speeds, or me
who he had made specially
with screw clamps and a folding bridge chair—
all to do with some crackpot notion that his Bach
sounded cleaner if his knees
were higher than his arse.
But I did like him in the early days
when he would suddenly sit straight
and gaze heavenward,
fresh puffs of love
whooshing through his soul.
The travel too I adored,
the fountains of Rome,
the scent of a new Bosenstein
in the Staatsoper Hall,
more than making up for the Goldberg longueurs,
his dread of being touched, all that absurd
fretting over room temperatures.
But I drew the line at his techno phase
when the fetish for recording machines
meant wholesome days squandered in windowless rooms
trying out anything to keep the boredom at bay
even humming out of tune—
no tweedledee partitas for me,
just Frankie Laine giddying-up his mule train
and, towards the end, the obligatory verse
of Goodnight Irene.

I had prepared without knowing
for the shallowness of his final days
in aeroplane holds and the trunks of cars
reading Kierkegaard,
coming to understand my daredevil streak
and certain longings which mistakenly
I had put down to his prickliness
rubbing off on me but which I now see
as nothing more than the purple love
I harbour for the things I fear.
Like the drone of the lawnmower
outside this library (where home is now a glass case),
reminding me of glances exchanged on trains,
or the heartstopping touch of anonymous hands
bearing me from the wings to the stage.
But I am happy to be here,
alone at last with no regrets or nuts
to entertain, just the queues who file past raving
about my legs, or the ghost they sometimes see
still squinnying over invisible keys.
I look out benignly and call them rude
names under my breath
that is if I am not off somewhere
dreaming up things to do in my mature phase
walking on the seashore
hanging out in cafés
painting deathless nudes.