Gill Learner

Gill Learner’s work has appeared in magazines such as Agenda, Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry, South and The High Window, and many anthologies; it has also won prizes and commendations. She has lived in Reading since 1966, is a keen gardener and fan of Radio 3.

The power of thought

     With apologies to Derren Brown
The illusionist says
Think of a tune and write it on this card.
Let no-one see. Place it face down.

The conductor does as he is asked.
Please put your hands behind your back.
The illusionist binds them there, explains
The orchestra will start.           They can tune up, play scales,
however they choose to make a quiet noise.
You, thinking a tune, projecting it, will conduct with just your eyes
till they all pick up the theme.

The players begin: a soft cacophony of strings, woodwind, brass.
Random threads stand out then blend until
one rope of notes emerges from the blurry sound.
The conductor nods, the orchestra plays on,
the audience begins to hum.
The music spills into the street.
Passers-by stop, add their voices, la-la-la-ing
if they don’t know Schiller’s words.
Cabs, buses, cars slow to a halt as drivers, passengers join in.
Office cleaners silence vacuums, chefs pull pans from the heat.
Out in the suburbs TVs are muted, conversation stops.
Everyone is carolling.
Ferries carry the song to Denmark, Belgium, France and Spain.
The chorus grows, colonising continents:
Tibetan monks chant the melody, favelas samba it,
townships kwela to the cadences, Memphis bends it blue.
Now the whole world is harmonising Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.
The illusionist smiles.

Gill Learner

Published in collection: Change, Two Rivers Press, 2021.

Collections: The Agister’s Experiment, 2011,
Chill Factor, 2016; Change, 2021, all from Two Rivers Press.
Anthologies: Fanfare (2015) & Her Wings of Glass (2014), Second Light Publications; The Emma Press Anthology of Love, 2018; plus over eight from Grey Hen Press, plus others from competitions.

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