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Curtains drawn against late October twilight,

working on verses about burgeoning flocks

of raucous, emerald Ring-necked Parakeets

in the Surrey Hills, I hear the murmur

of girls. It is Halloween. The bell rings.

There is a bevy of neighbours’ daughters –

one with a painted face, all on the cusp

of womanhood – lovely, ingenuous.


From habit, I watch them safely down the street

and then, before I shut the door, look up

at the night sky, craning my neck with wonder.

Cloud obscures all but Jupiter, Mars, Venus.

It would be tempting to believe not merely

in physical forces and chemical

reactions but design and purpose

through the kaleidoscope of the universe –

and in the countless stars’ unheard music.


After supper, I begin another piece:

about the Ghetto in Golden Prague –

with its learning, its music and its art –

which Hitler decreed should be preserved as

a raree show for ‘Judenrein Europa’.

Daily, new stones are placed on the tomb

of Rabbi Judah Levai ben Bezalel,

Talmudic scholar and Kabbalistic mystic,

legendary creator, from Vltava mud,

of The Golem to scourge the anti-semites,

and battler with Azrael, the angel of death,

to protect his only granddaughter.




In the opposite corner of the room

in which I write is an Edwardian

upright piano, an inanimate

companion since my early childhood.

Our granddaughter asks to be lifted

onto the too high stool and tries the notes,

now loud, now soft,  with the flats of her hands,

hearing with wonder the unending sounds.




© Copyright David Selzer
5 Responses
  • Laurie Corzett
    November 9, 2012

    music of the spheres

    In the quiet of the evening
    when starlight and peace prevail
    a haunting rhythm,
    music of the spheres,
    comes dancing
    embracing fear,
    kissing the pain away.
    Sadly I watch the sky
    hoping for a shooting star
    to swoop down and carry me
    far into another lifetime,
    where kindly constellations
    tell stories of joy and thanksgiving.
    The evening star crackles and strains
    like an old jazz recording.
    Music of another age
    written on a mighty, sacred wind
    told like Homeric verse
    by the wanderers —
    heavenly nourishing guides
    leading us home.

  • Ashen
    October 20, 2013

    Parakeets? In Surrey?

    Music, heard or unheard, has no boundaries.

    Your poem reminds me of a series of spectacular prints, and negatives I burned in a huff of anger, a scene used in my first novel. The images were of the Jewish cemetery in Prague on a blessed day, with magnificent light – each frame engraved in my mind, including Rabbi Loew’s grave and close-ups of stones and petition notes.

    Granddaughters receive special regards here 🙂

  • David Selzer
    October 21, 2013

    The last time – which was perhaps two or three years ago – we visited Claremont Landscape Gardens and Painshill Park there were flocks of them. On a visit to Polesden Lacey three or five years ago we overheard a conversation about parakeets on Boxhill. I’m assuming the birds are still about.

    I shan’t inquire about the ‘huff of anger’ – only share the regret at the absence of what were obviously exceptional pics.

    Special regards indeed!

  • Susan Chast
    November 13, 2013

    It would be tempting to believe …
    They do, she will … and the narrator hears it, too, I believe, but is a guardian figure, one who knows almost too much to rest.

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