Hurdy Gurdy Player with Dancing Dog

By Andy Brown

Cornelis Dusart, etching, 1685 

Strange to think that, once, these streets were noisy,
Now that lockdown’s brought them to a hush:
The cars are gone, the buses at a standstill
And all those schoolkids – babbling on their way,
Hollering from one kerb to the other –
Are shut indoors, in silence, with their screens.

The main road at the garden’s end has dwindled
To sporadic slipstream air and humming tyres.
No parting aeroplanes drone high above,
And I’m grateful for that at least. Grateful
For the song of birds; the rush of the wind
In the cherry; the swish of birch and ash.

It’s like we’ve gone back to a simpler time,
A calmer age in which I can hear myself
Think. I’m so used to the quiet, even
The doorbell makes me jump… I know it’s just
The postman delivering the boxes
Of things we bought online and don’t much need,

But I’m half expecting to open the door
Like that old dame in Haarlem, 1685,
To discover a hurdy gurdy man
Out there in the street, a spill of children
Trailing in his wake, and a little dog
Dancing in his collar and suit, yapping

As he prances on his hind legs. And why not?
Silence is imagination’s maker
Greeting the music of the possible…
While the vines around her porch continue
To house the pairing woodpigeons who coo
Steadily, as if nothing much could change.

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Moira Garland
Guest
1 month ago

Loved this Andy. The way you start with the present then take us back and into the artwork.
Really like the way you’ve split the lines here: A calmer age in which I can hear myself/
Think. Very effective.

Tupa Snyder
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Tupa Snyder
1 month ago

What a lovely, timeless poem. It roots you in there. You could be any generation. Loved reading it Andy.

Scott
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Scott
1 month ago

Very nice, lovely poem!

sarah Bennett-Green
Guest
sarah Bennett-Green
1 month ago

I love Andy’s poetry, and this one is no exception – wonderful, thank you.

Next Poetry and Covid Reading, 10th March, 7pm (GMT): Three international pairings of acclaimed poets recite collaborations written for the AHRC-funded Poetry and Covid project anthology, published by Shearsman Press.

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