The Longest Song by Kei Miller

The Longest Song

John Cage’s composition As Slow As Possible began being played in St Burchardi’s church, Germany, in 2001 and is scheduled to end in the year 2640.

The longest song begins like a comma, a rest
that lasts for eighteen months. Long enough
that when the first chord is heard, surprising

as an extinct bird come back to life, many
cannot stop their tears. And one man
has told his wife he plans to weep

until the music has reached its next rest.
I suspect were we to pilgrim towards this
hymn, were we to sit in the hard pews

and only listen, patient through its months
of silence, our lives would be held
like a story my father tells me is true:

a man with a noose around his neck is allowed
one final song. He stands on the stage
and with a voice rivalling Franco Corelli, begins

ten billion green bottles standing on the wall.
And though this man has never lost count
of his bottles, all have lost count

of the years that have passed since,
the world outside the world of the song.
A hundred years at least they have stood still:

a man, his executioner, and the small crowd
of witnesses, all held as we too could be held
in a single room, our lives echoing

beyond their natural years, stretched
between clef and final fall, crescendo
and diminuendo, of one incredible song.

Kei Miller

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