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09/05/2012

Frozen Music

George Szirtes

an extract from The Voice Project Choir‘s Singing the City, a Writers’ Centre Norwich co-commission with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, 2012

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Architecture is Frozen Music


All:
Like a building blazing with life
Like buildings that join hands across a street
Like voices linked in the air in fancy knots
Like a tug of rope in the throat
Like chains, like chimes we sing

Left:
Feet pattering up the street, I swallow them.

Right:
Eyes flickering over doors, I offer myself to them.

Left:
Who’s looking?

Right:
What’s cooking?

Left:
When she left the house it was dark in the morning.

Right:
When they returned it was dark in the evening.

Left:
And he rose from his chair and slammed the door tight.

Right:
And the radio came on with the sound of breath.

All breath-whistling.

Left:
And they rose on a gust as if through the chimney.

Right:
So the eldest poked the ashes while the youngest was dreaming

Left:
The police called round, they beat at the door.

Right:
Three blind mice ran across the floor.

All:
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.

Left:
The owl in the shop blinked. I was alone.

Right:
The books and coins in the window, the marquetry of the pavement.

Left:
The dead are out shopping. They’ve gone to the market.

Right:
Jenny is expecting her third. Rose her fifth.

Left:
You have to watch the river behind you. It’s always at your back.

Right:
You watch the river at night when it is glittering and black.

All:
We are the river, the stream under the water.
We are the bricks and the flint in our bones.
We are the voice that breaks in the air when the birds sing.
We are the street and the river, the blood in our veins.
We’re pumped through the body by the heart in your possession.
We emerge from your mouths like breathing aloud.
We are the street and the river, the noise in the lungs.
We are passing away as we all do in passing.
We are street and river and voice.
We are passing.

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