'maybe gabriel fauré turns in his grave and I’m drinking his favourite champagne' by Kiara Lindsay

This piece was commissioned by Melbourne Recital Centre in collaboration with the Emerging Writers Festival for the 2019 Writers in Residence program, and was written in response to this concert. To learn more about the writers and the program, visit Soundescapes, where stories, music and people intertwine

ANH Kiara Blue.gif

part i

élégie my first true love
I fall into each note clumsy from overwhelm
and feel it all like any teenaged girl

I decide I want to make emotion look easy
fool my hands steady
though from the chest they
agitate with anticipation

I make five phrases and end up on the river
admiring smooth stones under viridian water
relish any chance I get to play
an octave or more below middle C

I’m told it’s about the death of his wife
so hypothetical or not
I do it all thinking of her

I truly believe that I know what it’s like
to have a dead wife too
never having loved before
not realising I might like a wife one day

I feel her death in the
devastating repetition
imagine myself as a middle-aged fauré
contemplating a memory by the office window
glassy-eyed but reticent

my father asks me what I feel when I play
what I feel when I hear it
I look away abashed and say
of course I feel nothing

I’m embarrassed by the extent of my emotion
shove people out of the way of the sound
tell them to pretend
they heard nothing

part ii

I remember why I loved him
in the back of the salon
I let the electric blue light fall on my face
and return to teenaged-self

at the top of the andante
the piano rolls out in mechanical chords
and the cello soars on top like a proud albatross
my stomach flips in the moment the first bar mirrors
while it fakes the beginning of my first love élégie

I sink into a disappointment
padded by sound and soft rosehip light
at least the let-down is gentle and self-induced
so I get over it quickly
find something new to focus on

the finale ends in allegro vivo
the white-haired man in front of me erupts in applause
he puts his body into it
commits to it like a marriage

I’m reminded of a scene I’ve watched on repeat
replace the white-haired man with my grandfather
I never saw him so happy as he was in
a myriad matching moments
the suspense of the finish line
breaking his heart or at least
his nervous system

when I see the man wrapped in his own elation
I think how far I could come from the self
who’d roll her eyes or misapprehend
and pin it all on the resentment
she developed for catholicism

here in the back of the salon
I mourn concealed
until interrupted by the cellist
announcing fauré’s favourite drink (champagne)

he serves it to us in the foyer
I drink gingerly while I think
how strange it might’ve been
to be famous for putting people
in their memories

Kiara Lindsay is a poet. She completed her Honours in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne in 2017. Alongside Bridget Gilmartin, she co-edits Inhabit Journal and runs a poetry reading series called ‘Evening Swim’. In 2018, Kiara was the recipient of the H.B Higgins Poetry Scholarship. You can find her work in Voiceworks, Lor and Marrickville Pause.