Awaiting the Death Sentence, Alone in the Pavilion of Lost Swans, the Emperor Plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor

By | 1 November 2019

Extending from sleeves of pure gold
the Emperor’s hands uncurl their fingers
across the piano’s darkly chequered
counters. The earth is suddenly
spinning in fast motion. And the beautiful black
androgynous hair sweeps down his back,
defying age.
How long can he stay there, breathing in
that long glide between despair
and the up-beat’s re-entry,
where grace annuls nothing, that drift
where the script of his life is vanishing —
till his hands will once more be
all energy, no longer blunt fists but
the most instinctive, quietest
acts of giving?

The audience of just himself
holds its breath while the mind’s invisible oboes
carry his questions, these groping finger-strikes
against despair, into the pure
futureless air.

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