My boarding school music master, Eric de Courcy, had good reason to repeatedly put me in detention. What made that same man, principal organist, trust me me to play on some Saturday afternoons, in Waterford’s Church of Ireland cathedral?
Stiff the lock, antique the over-sized key,
dwarfed by massive porticoed door;
carved cathedral tombs cooly welcomed me,
lone footsteps echoed on chequered floor.
Colourful stained glass saints stoically gazed,
I ascended spiral staircase to play piano tunes
on old pipe organ, ivory keys haltingly praised
an ‘unknown god’, isolated Saturday afternoons.
Ravenous teenage heart, refugee with no relief
- but driven on by spirit of sonic swell,
seeking celestial certainty, Bach’s biblical belief
a shelter “where sheep may safely dwell”.
Time halted in that lofty leviathan space,
asthmatic bellows wheezed, symphonic boom
echoed back sloppy timing, adding farce, not grace;
that console kindled hope in God’s engine room.