And Variation

by Boris Kokotov


It was Sunday and we went to church.
Not to pray – God forbid! – but for an organ recital.
A free concert: Buxtehude, J.S. Bach, and J. Langlais
(you may know the latter name – I did not).

The church has a modern, remotely-controlled organ;
pipes roar upstairs while the organist resides on the stage
next to the massive, wood-clad instrument with three
keyboards and the line of  bass octave pedals,

the big ones, located beneath the organist’s chair.
Enjoying the unobstructed view of his legs
from the second row where we secured our seats,
I was impressed by the swiftness and precision of their

movement, particularly at The Fugue and Variation
a two-minute passage intended, clearly, for a leg
virtuoso – his hands off the keys, at rest, his feet
on fire, the building resonating at low frequencies.

One might expect him to wear special boots, like
a ballerina, but no, he exhibited a pair of innocent
looking loafers and also a jacket with a dark necktie –
well, those have nothing to do with music-making

so I should not mention them at all. As everyone
knows there are scores of ways to make music
on hundreds of instruments using various parts
of the human body in all feasible combinations.

A friend of mine, a gifted musician, even employed
his butt playing some tune on the piano to impress girls.
He called it ass-assisted glissando. Such a great concert
(at the Presbyterian Church, I mean) it was!

Afterwards there was a reception but we left earlier
so I should not mention it either. Let’s restrain
boisterous variations from overshadowing the theme.
Let the color of the organist’s socks remain a mystery.

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