The Page Turner
J. D. Smith (bio)

Female before the strident bow,
the brass and lengthy woodwind,
she—or he—is the lover
who lets a mate prove his prowess
and, better, stay convinced of it.

To offer sound for sound would be
merely and conventional.

Instead, silence is turned,
like spoon or washboard,
into an instrument, each mute
sheet lifted, giving way
to its successors.

The conductor may not notice,
or only as he notices
a chair, or a bass line
is not out of place,
one more detail under the baton,

as is the musician, who may see
the page turner as a convenience,
or solid shadow of the doubt
that he has made the score his own.

The quiet pages could be read
as semaphores, signing the message
a Roman servant would whisper
to the newly crowned Emperor,
You, too, will die.”
Virtuosi, as well, have been known to forget.

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