Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bill Evans's Feet and Allottments

Bill Evans laying his fingers down

i.m. Michael Murphy

When I glimpse from the train a clutch
of allotments, a tight row of cabbages or spuds
or garden peas, I think there are gods
beyond gods who live in the bones
of men and women, shivering at their touch;
that when rain falls it weeps hailstones;

that when Bill Evans lays his fingers down
on the keys it is death he is playing
in his own and the world’s ear,
in the time allotted, in the proper undertone of fear,
in each cloud that arrives with its gown
of rain, in the moment that bears no delaying;

that the apparatus of ‘the Perspex bus-stop
reclaimed’ for a hothouse is a new Jerusalem
that is much like the old one; that each raindrop
is a lifetime of damage and new life
at once as it hangs on to the bent leaf
like a lunatic in Hogarth’s Bedlam;

that these are the small ordinary days
we all know and live in, huddled inside
the big ones, inside a cosmos we cannot quite
inhabit; that we fall like rain every night;
that it is the gods who are pleased to provide
our allotments,  here where one man lays

out a row of something ‘implicit
in what it’s not’; that the ‘twin-tub bleeding rust’
and those prams with missing wheels, those tacit
admissions, may  still be  useful, still
full of purpose, still in possession of a certain will
to serve and not just rot and gather dust.

What we learn once - that life being ordinary
is the extraordinary thing – sticks with us
like clods of soil trapped in the treads of our shoes.
It is the plastic bags and shopping baskets we carry
to and fro, those bags of manure, compost and refuse,
the well-worn crust of the mysterious

that wastes itself and comes round again. I think
of Bill Evans’s head bent right down, staring,
it seems, at his feet not the keys. The soft, lost
spaces between head and foot, the loss-bearing,
the unsharing shared, the forgetting of cost
as space opens up just where we stand, on the brink

of music or earth, the universe of barren rock
where everything bears fruit and nothing does,
where the tune moves deeper, an inflorescence
in unresolved chords, with long lines of dock
and nettle and the faint occasional buzz
of the fly hanging on the air, its brief dark presence

zipping off somewhere by itself, into itself.
These small constructions, our scruffy Edens,
those paradise gardens inhabited by gods
much like ourselves: the books on the shelf,
the unrolling of music, the curious odds and sods
of a universe that demand our credence,

they hold us for as long as anything holds.
It is time to go. It is time to pack away
the equipment we are used to: trowel and spade,
and to turn off the music that still unfolds
and won’t stop unfolding.  We cannot stay,
not here, not anywhere we might have stayed.

1 comment:

Gwil W said...

Like this. And, George, once again you are my muse. It's called: watching cricket with granddad. Many thanks.