Pachelbel's Canon

April 11, 2018

once she gardened to Pachelbel’s Canon

now on her deathbed, dignity drained

her teeth are like stones, eroded by nature

sand fills her throat when she speaks

and she no longer hears the voice of time

ravaging her cochlea, her dreams


she recalls the symphony orchestra

elevated strings perform the Canon

wells stirring among mothballed suits

of the concert hall’s A-reserve seating


and emotion reaches B and C-reserves

not at the speed of sound as teachers told

but in forever lapping waves: the man

in row thirty-four or five chooses not

to witness the strings but adjusts his gaze

to four through eight, seeing symmetry


fractions of a beat before the sound

vibrates into his own ear canal

and makes love with his auditory cortex:

she married him before the cancer came


she dwells that it will be her dying harmony

and not the melodic absence of the sea

or the crackling fire she built from driftwood

or the shells she picked and put to her ears

listening for the balance of the breaking waves

(but a broken heartbeat has no tune)


she left her clothes by the shoreline

and noises conflicted, waded past the surf

towards the sun, itself catching alight and

eyes on the horizon in breaths, towards dawn:


then, Hadean insomnia—her tender howl

as the Coast Guard found her mindless

shivering body, naked, heralded a miracle

a one-in-a-million headline

they locked her up and buried the key

condemned to silence sixty years more


now, by her garden: a sill over mulberries

where a bonsai cut from a greater fig

and faded under its sister’s shadows

crawls thirsty, stretching for light


nearby funeral directors suggest

her favourite, Pachelbel’s Canon to play

as she is committed once more to stillness

but that it not what Pachelbel meant to her

and no one appreciates the insanity

as much as she

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We acknowledge the past, present and emerging traditional owners of the land on which we live and work, the Wadjuk people of the Noongar nation and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

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