Sitting next to John Cage
We both have a thing about mushrooms:
snatching a supper of edible fungi,
we discuss the concept of time buckets
before hurrying to our seats at the Barbican.
John sits tall, all anticipation, no chat.
Wine-mellow, I acknowledge concert-goers,
meld into place. Seconds later, a world-renowned
pianist steps on the stage, moves to the piano.
Flicks his tails. Sits. Adjusts the stool.
Opens the lid. Poised, snapshot-still, he waits.
There’s a final growl of throat-clearing,
followed by the hush of expectation.
Frozen-fingered, he stares at the rosewood ahead.
No notes play. A tourist whispers his ignorance,
peers into dimness, searches for latecomers.
Is that a pitter of rain on the roof? Nearby,
a quick intake of breath; nearer still, fidgeters
shift position, rustle programme pages.
I hear mushrooms rumble, the rush and pump
of blood. Audience, hall, held in suspense.
At 4 minutes 33, the pianist closes the lid, bows,
unable to disguise a half-smile, to wild applause.
John leaps up, beams: we both know
there’s no such thing as silence.

Nicky Philips

If you have any comments on this poem, Nicky Philips would be pleased to hear from you.