One room becomes two (after Piano)

“He lent me his jacket and we took to the outside air to collect light that would otherwise be lost if not for the refracting glass of snow. Snow is soon then ice and all angles of thought are different from before. He sings and slips ahead in to the night. I have his jacket still – I wear it with such memories as below…”

A friend worthwhile for festivities: I was never allowed in his kitchen though for some reason – it was just this one room – one room that soon became two.

The first time I visited his flat was on a darkened icy December evening ridden with more snowfall – his belongings littered the close; you followed them up the stairs to his front door that was usually ajar with paraphernalia. When inside you made your way through curtains draped across collected junk – books piled in corners and framed photographs and drawings from artist friends decadent upon the walls. There was no central heating; only warmth from a small electric heater burning the smell of his floor and drapery, from elegant damp, into the dry comforting crisp of sheep’s rug ash wood and oak recline. There was one curtain in the room that covered just one of two magnificent single glazed windows – the other was simply left bare. After watching the snow fall outside your eyes would follow shelf upon shelf of sheet music making their way to a grand piano crushed in the corner behind the door, through which you walked in. Upon greeting you he disappeared into the kitchen.

I took this absence for my collected observation. A low light dangles from the high ceiling above; reaching the coffee table in the middle of the room, save for a few inches on the metric scale. The table is cluttered with half made Christmas decorations, glass spherical paperweights, broken ceramic pots and teacups accompanied by an ashtray containing change from the day’s cigarettes.

I was presented with wine complete with a mug decorated with lights and birds and trees. He played the piano as I gazed around the ornaments that danced with every note he delicately placed upon each string.

Preceding the second visit, we met in a second hand bookshop that sold sheet music. A dusty old man who spend most of our visit on the phone to his younger lover – I was listening in – sold us a collection of Bach (1685 – 1750), some Czech composer, a neat bit of Debussy (1862 – 1918), and an almanac on Peruvian interior design.

We arrived back to his flat. Heater on, coffee table set he shuffled again to the piano. Heater pulled closer to my feet, coffee table redressed, I sat on the sofa again, busying myself fixing his broken ceramic objects. One ceramic container had the function of keeping the smaller – yet anything but negligible – pieces that would in the end complete each puzzle. The objects re-formed themselves by way of my fingers as his hands recited the sheet music in front of him. Several compositions later a teapot, a fish ornament, and a few cups and sauces lay in front of me.

I stood up, stretched, turned the low orange light on at the wire and swung it as a pendulum, then crossed to the other side of the coffee table to catch it. There I let the light go again, across the paperweights, dancing its way through each reflection, up in to the air to where I sat before. It was then I noticed a hint of another reflection. On the wall directly behind and above the sofa the light fashioned upon an inch of a mirror behind another large piece of material.

Piano sounding in my ears, notes seemingly louder with each step, I approached. I pulled at the cloth that then fell to the floor. And before me was a great reflective surface unleashed, revealing the room of activity, twice the volume it was before: in the bottom corner towards the frame – to me his back remained – the pianist had stopped.