David Starkey
The Northernmost Full-time Symphony Orchestra in the World

Oulu, where I lived, is at 65 degrees.
Think Greenland and the Northwest Territories,
just above Fairbanks and Nome, Alaska,
just past icy Reykjavik. In November
and December it was gloomy, dark,
yet music played in the musiikkikeskus,
Sibelius and the Viennese,
Correlli and Stravinksy and William Byrd.
It was nice. Still, I always felt slightly
guilty knowing that hundreds of miles north,
where the air was even darker and colder,
where the stench of desolation freezes
into the very soil of the Kola peninsula
there was no song, but only silence, in Murmansk.

Wine gives juice to functions
that otherwise would end punctually at nine.
Drunks tumble elaborately down stairs,
Bentleys smash like planes in mid-air--
but the cause is always microscopic:
the right biotin meets civilized yeast.

Meanwhile, someone from France
or California quotes Homer, riffs on the Feast
of Cana, stains the white carpet red.
Everyone sinks like lees to their basic element.
The wealthy wives of unmade men
surround an acid artist. (Tart,

thinks one, grey eyes sparkling.)
Save your money, they advise with gusto.
Buy big houses just like ours.
The hostess runs her tongue across her teeth.
She knows the chemistry inside out.
All that sugar disappears.