Lament for Esbjörn Svensson
Play me something. Though you’re not really here,
with the rain tat-tattooing the kitchen window like a snare
and the wind, the wind, the weary wind
droning like the bass on Tuesday Wonderland,
the heating creaking in the key of A, the fridge voicing
the same two notes in perpetuity (I’m improvising
here for accompaniment; give me a break).
I’ll pour us both a finger of Knob Creek.
And though you’re not really here play me something: a slow
progression on my flatmate’s beat-up Casio
then your hands jerking like mad crabs across the key-
board. Or don’t play. It’s up to you. But play.
For there’s no one but me here in the lamplight.
Or at least tell me what eternity is like:
if it’s a never-closing-club called The Hereafter,
dead greats in the rhythm section, you tinkling like the laughter
of sixteen-year-olds on a beach in late July, table-serviced boozing.
Or if dying translates us into the condition of music;
leaves us weightless, melodious, floating bars of thought
uploaded like data into the mind of God.
Okay fine. Let’s not talk of prematurity and jazz
but just listen to the silk rain fizz
upon the rain that waterfalls the steps, tests drains,
and strokes the bevelled slope of River Lane
as we name the too-late, unmade albums
(Fractal Birds, Jessica’s Premises, E.S. Ah Um)
your fan-club now will only hear in overhearings or in dreams.
And I won’t bullshit you, in the sweep of things
your trio-intricacies, your carefully-sequenced records will endure
no longer than the muttering gap between main set and encore,
no longer than it took the final chords to flow,
like a receding wave, back into the piano
when you played late and cranky in the Opera House,
unsoundchecked, your sampler or whatever on the fritz.
This stubby bottle’s empty as your glass.
I wouldn’t bring this matter up unless.
Though you’re not really here it’s time to go.
It’s easing off, I think. I’m sorry. You know
I’m sorry but it’s time. That’s traffic and raw light
spills through the curtain-gaps. It’s easing. Thank you. And goodnight.