Take a modest length of pipe, making sure
it’s clean and true, and try to blow through it.
In that way you’ll get a sense of how
it was for Pan, when he played his Blues
for Syrinx on a lonely riverbank.
But if you wish to get beyond the wind
in the reeds and shivering leaves
you’ll need to choose some decent brass
that’s resonant, tough, and flexible,
buffing it hard until it gleams.
And having convoluted it, maintaining
its bore so that sound can ripple free,
you’ll need to drill the holes with care
and then adjust the piston valves to keep
them dancing nimbly at your fingertips.
Next insert a mouthpiece as lovingly
as sex, for as the metal moulds itself
to the player’s lips it slowly warms
and moistens. The embouchure
is all technique, but has its own rituals.
The trickiest part to shape’s the bell,
so give it all the time it needs. It’s there
the music blossoms, when Dizzy bounces
off the stars and Clifford plays
each night as if the sun were rising.