There is music coming from the old café.
A soft trickle at first, wafting through the open doorway.
The bronze light of the afternoon sparkles on the cracked glass
Old stained glass windows, half-boarded up – half broken
Where some misplaced forgotten anger had barged in
Helped by a brick. Or two. A long time ago.
The notes grow frequent – less hesitant –
Wilder and bolder. Haunting. And free.
In fours, the bars escape, some through the doorway,
Some through the windows, some through the lines of silent chimneys
That ache in the tired sun. Encased in smoke that isn’t theirs
But is the city’s. The smoke is a good stage for the music.
They don’t belong together. But one carries the other.
It is much too early for people to be crowding that particular café
In the middle of the tired streets and the coughing factories
All younger than the café itself. All busier than the café itself.
But a crowd is gathering. The music draws them near.
In couplets and triplets, in solos and quartets
In gathering groups of growing girths
In tremolos and trills and accented staccatos
To listen to singing is to sing with your ears.
The doors are open and the little figure hunched
Over the massive instrument - her fingers, bunched
Dance over the old keys a familiar dance
That we've all heard before - or have we?
And the dance lifts off the keys - off the air
And settles in spaces - in little spaces, here and there.
In nooks and crannies, as all wandering dances do.
In hummings and whistlings, and some ankles and some shoes.
In whirling dust-storms that swirl off the ground,
And everyone listens as the dance dances around.