Chamber Organ – Caroline Price

George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2018 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicator: André Mangeot

Castle Grant, 1766

They lie back replete
in their padded seats, bibs spotted
from dismantling the birds they shot earlier

and prepare for the magic he’s promised, their host
tiny at the acanthus-­swagged mahogany,
his hands as they dance
between octaves and stops

shaking the hall with a fanfare
engulfed moments later by thunder, followed as abruptly
by the eerie floating of a single flute

while on the far side of the wall and braced against it
his servant pumps the handle
without pause, gasping
as he gives the instrument breath,
his grunts and sweat-streaked face

as invisible, impossible to imagine
as the deer grazing in the dusk
or the soft chuck chuck
of a roosting pheasant, an answering grouse.

Copyright © 2018 Caroline Price

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