Thursday 17 May 2018

SILENT FEET (a poem after Eberhard Weber)

When I found the manuscript pages of Silent Feet I was pleased at how well I remembered it, and how well it held up. I wrote it 40 years ago, just after the poem Coachwheel Yellow, a villanelle which I posted here back in 2016, and to which you can link here. Or look on the side of the blog page, where you can link to all the poems posted here.

The connection is the studio/greenhouse, and the same very specific place and situation in both poems. 'Silent Feet' is another ECM poem, inspired by a song, in this case the title track of Eberhard Weber & Colours' 1977 album. It remains one of Weber's best songs, and the way his bass swirls and builds around the other players (Rainer Bruninghaus on piano, Charlie Mariano on reeds and John Marshall on drums) is superb. This would be around I time I saw them at The Round House in Camden.

Today I was looking at the album's cover art, by Maja Weber, and wondering why when I wrote this I did not make more of the Watership Down connection (to the cat were given silent feet and eyes that can see in the dark; I have another poem with the latter title which remains unfinished) at the time. Maybe I wasn't looking at the LP sleeve. I wrote it originally in August 1978 and changed it only slightly in the next year. It was accepted for publication by two magazines which folded, before being published in 1987 in a very small magazine called Magazing, in Glasgow, but the 'finished' version appeared in Brief (Canyon, California) issue 5, 1989. I made a few more changes recently in the version you are reading here.

                                                 (after Eberhard Weber)

The colours jump off his brush, names on a list
Eager to complete itself.
The canvas stretched like a target; his eyes
Controlling a weapon he cannot dismantle.
The angle of the easel is determined by
The relationship developed between hand and eye.
It can be considered
From the outside, by a woman watching
In the doorway, on bare feet, silently
As his arm reaches
To connect the line of the body
With the canvas, reclining
In its plane. He senses
Her presence, still outside but changing
The contours of the studio. The patterns
roll against his eyes like waves. She hears
Him turn before he does, before she sees
It happen. Her eyes are nervous, bird's song;
They meet his askew; they move away,
Return; she hears him move again; he sees
Her, a flutter of wings outside;
She is gone.

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