Quiet at night except for the passing car
rattling windows, throwing shapes on the stuccoed
ceiling, lights flitting across the dark.
The drinks trolley winks to the serene piano.
Upstairs, the sleeping boy’s hair smells
of politeness and summer evening shadow.
His dreams have a vague, brown emptiness—
in the deserted classroom sunlight falls
on a grimy heart carved on a hollow desk—
darkness and dust already striking a chord
for the silent child who, opening a piano case,
stumbles on the peace of forbidden worlds.
The Buddha waiting in his mountain cave
will come later, his message that by forty
a man is responsible for his own face.
Now he only knows that each good boy
deserves fun, turns a deaf ear to hints
that good music boys will find no joy
to match the purple joy glimpsed in the midst
of melancholy—the doomed heroine
hallucinating, the boatman appearing through the mist
who call out his name in the night. Let us in,
they cry, voices rising from the mouldering leaves,
the cold grass, the shadows beneath the swing.