I have filled the still air with scribbling. The sky is

all starlings, my ears are small birds, shrill and

demanding. And my girl’s right hand is cracking,

her knuckles splitting. And me in the chair with the

black spotted sun and the filing. The drilling. And

yesterday that woman flying from school in tears,

her husband slipping. And then we are ghosts.


...swans tiptoe across an icy lake

...Eveline is in her pink tutu

...the ballerina glides


I could be ethereal and move without touching too.

Without weight I could shimmer, but I am this lumpy

creature. The music shouts, ‘Come back to me. Listen

to me’. Why should I listen to you? Why keep dragging

me back to the surface of things?


...and then I am flying across the garden, breathless,

my toes barely touching the tips of the grasses, and

I am a fairy, a ghost, a hovering thing, moving

smoothly, wearing white. I am an owl, I am tears

but I am not crying. I am the air...


And then I am called back to land.

I reach out and cry as I bump on the grass.

I am a woman at forty.

Why these lines, this hair, these teeth?



©kate owens, 2013


This was written for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's 'Notes into Music' project where writers respond to a mystery piece of music. To see the project follow this