Tchaikovsky’s Tchotchkes

1 May 2015

Tchaikovsky’s tchotchkes, cluttering up
Tchaikovsky’s office. By which we mean
the salon, its instruments, the vacant staves
waiting for semiquavers to swing from them,
like apes. Did Tchaikovsky crack his knuckles.
Did he flex his toes, constrained though they were
by stocking and buckle. Did he annoy
the local graveyards, local farmers – did he
irritate his neighbours, did they grumble
as he wrangled with overtures and pas de deux.
Did he suspect that his vocation might
have been a gamble, business hours spent
tinkering with scales, with refrains, with phrases
that longed to resolve themselves, simply. Did
Tchaikovsky contemplate his legacy, his rivals,
the lottery of reputation, did he wonder to whom
the honours would be allotted, in the end. Who
can tell us – who bore witness? The knick knacks,
of course, the artefacts, busts with their marble
cataracts, the listening figurines. They’re protected,
now, up on a high shelf or tucked into a vitrine
whose temperature is always pleasant. They’ve
been arranged alongside all the familiar debris
on which a genius finger might have alighted.
Are they delighted at the rapt attention they receive,
these inheritors, this former bric-a-brac, and
do they think about Tchaikovsky – do they
catch up and reminisce, the tchotchkes, now that
they’re valuable. Now that they’re treasures –
do they remember – are they grateful.

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