after the painting Harmony by Remedios Varo
I set the musical stave on my desk,
strung notes on its metal wires,
using fossils, shells, prisms, as quavers
and semi-quavers, trying to make music
from matter. I summoned treasures
from the chest for so long
I thought it was bottomless, the source
of the rivers of sound that drove my world.
I longed for harmonies to grow the trees,
so the songs of their light would flood my studio.
The muse even lent a hand. She emerged
from the peeling wallpaper, her vellum-
wrinkled fingers moved the notes
until a faint prelude crept out.
The air vibrated like branches in a breeze.
I blew through the clef to add my breath
and the trees became a hovering forest. I composed
falling rain, dew-drip, the budding leaves.
From Poetry London 60 (Summer 2008)