Instrumental trio based on my father’s translation of Jacques Prévert’s “Page d’écriture”
“Two and two make four four and four make eight eight and eight make sixteen”
the teacher cries “Once more!
Two and two make four four and four make eight Now concentrate!”
But the lyre bird passes overhead and the child sees and calls and cries
“Rescue me play with me beautiful bird beautiful bird!”
And the bird comes to play with him
“Two and two make four Once more! Once more!”
But the child plays his game and the bird plays with him.
“Four and four make eight, eight and eight make sixteen sixteen and sixteen?”
“Sixteen and sixteen total nothing of worth at all Not thirty two at any rate Not as I calculate!”
And off they go. Inside his desk the bird is hid and all the children can hear its surging song.
Eights vanish quite away and fours and twos are gone
ciphers that go their way and one and one is neither here nor there
So there! So there!
and the bird wings while the child sings
the teacher shouts “stop your playing about”
but all the children can hear the truth
the walls of the class quietly vanish away
windows turn to sand ink clears to water.
The desks are trees chalk becomes cliff
and the quill takes flight!