Lang Lang’s piano tuner

(Lang Lang – Chinese concert pianist born 1982)

Lang Lang says he takes his piano tuner
everywhere – as if he folds him and tucks him
into his top pocket, neat as a handkerchief,
beside a tuning fork pronged like a beak;

when the piano tuner is alone with the Steinway
in Central Park or the Mirror Room at Versailles
with mutes to isolate strings, his ear to the wires,
he pings the tuning fork till it sings like a bird;

Lang Lang sits at the piano – his hands hover,
splay-fingered as wings, poised to invoke thunder
from his fingertips, ripple like liquid over
the keys, stroke the black and white of them,
evoke the blackbird and dove of them
until murmurations of minims quaver the air
as birdsong flies from the piano’s throat
note after perfectly-tuned note.

Sarah Macleod