Once an orchestra played

(In Guarany)

Where stands
the piano grand
in the corner
waiting weekly
for furniture
to fill the hall
with dining ears.
Mainly silent
in its corner
an ornament
like a mourner.
All the sounds
unheard captured
from brass
and winds
to excited voices
Ideas fantastic,
sometimes stoic
tilled, tilted
disputed choices
in solos
in duets
melodies elastic
lilted and filled
from times heroic.

• Cafe Guarany is a restaurant established in 1933 in Porto, Portugal. Designed in the style of the grand Parisian brasseries, an orchestra once played there in the days before electronic sound systems prevailed. The cafe was also a literary and dissident meeting place during the era of the Estado Novo.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..