Margaret Zheng


Song Lines

I was in a daydream of my own following the long shadows home.  The veil of the night wrapped itself around my shoulders and I hurried to escape the unlit streets.  It was that time betwixt light and shade when the little light there was appeared not enough to dissipate the skulking shadows.

Curled up leaves were swept around my feet as I ventured whether to take the short cut around.  They were like music notes pirouetting and flipping themselves over and over.  I remembered what Mattie said when he was only 6,

“Is there an infinity of leaves, Mammy”.  “It looks that way” I would answer.

Mattie loved stones too – I remembered the way he would just suddenly veer up driveways so he could scoop them up from the verges, count them and touch their hollowed backs.

The crackling wind almost blew me into the barrelled house.   I closed the door shut and strands of music directed me to the corner of the sitting-room.  His school uniform made sure he blended in perfectly with the monochrome piano, his long glossy black hair falling into the music.  The lines of black with the gleaming white gave him a certain comfort.  There were no crossed lines, just straight ones like the upright lines of the numerals in his orange sum-copy.

Long tapered fingers stroked those keys, baited them, as his touch woke them from their sleep.  He was taking them out, bringing them with him as he ever so tenderly teased them out of the jowls of the piano.  They were slow at first, but he cajoled the melody forward until it rose, revberated against the walls of  silence  and climbed up into the air.

His body arched forward as he kept the sound going, it was a little fractured at first as it made its way past the murkiness of the clouds but then it was as if his torment was smoothed out straight as the folds of the night disappeared to reveal an expanse of sky.

The trees stood out more to hear, the sound mingled with the sweet trilling of the birds and his driven fingers stoked the sound until it became more sweeter still.

The inkiness of the night was smudged out and tiny gems of translucent light glistened and glinted as the nobleness of the music sprang from wells of feeling inside him.   The sound wove its way through these crystallised beads by a thin gossamer thread.    He caressed the keys so gently, they rose out of their white straitened bodices to lie in the lap of the half moon, robbing it of any potency it already possessed.  His whole body stretched out further, as he felt he was being lulled into a whimsical drowsiness.  It was only the stirrings of music  there and yet he felt cocooned in a soft filmy place away from any sense of noise or fear.

And almost unbeknownst to him the sound carried him along, wafting and waning until with a deepening flourish, he brought it right back to him.  He then felt it shying away as he teased it along the pathways, brought it down to the harbour, until the sound reached the strand, turned and began to fall away, adding to each wave of sound until it was barely there.

His touch was lighter now, trying to keep it all together, smoothening it, bringing  it to a whisper, his body leaning back, a lock of hair skew-ways, withdrawing, letting go as he channelled the music to an oft stillness.

Son, one rakish evening the clodhopper in me was dissolved into the weightlessness of clouds as you baited those ivories out to play and begot me a cloud-burst.



Margaret Zheng (nee Lynch) was born in County Cavan and draws on the wildness of the countryside there to inform her work.  She has been writing for the past 10 years.  Margaret belongs to a writer’s group in Dublin and is exploring the possibility of getting her first collection of poetry published. She often performs at different events across the city.


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