by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Until the quavers become feathers of a fountain, Ravel remains a beast that charges through the room. G sharps and B flats are four times as restless. Phrases unshapely, notes flutter like fish out of an aquarium. Arpeggios, says Martha, must be water, touched at room temperature and without edges. Staccatos are black stones you go inside. You can’t jump too high, you must weigh less than the stones. I am nine and here is where wisdom should begin. Très doux. Très expressif. Très rapide. I am working on three ways to enter a fountain. I found five. Imagine butterflies in a lightful dome. Imagine clouds a belt around your waist. These are the best two to sustain the flight. To spend the pedal. To betray the title. If only I knew fountains never look the same.
Reprinted with the author’s permission, “Jeux d’eau” is from Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s second book My Funeral Gondola, published by Manoa Books/El León Literary Arts. You can hear Martha Argerich play Ravel’s Jeaux d’eau on Youtube. In an interview with Zara Raab in Blue Lyra Review, Sze-Lorrain speaks of her book, her writing, and her music. She speaks about her relationships to English, Chinese and French, among other topics, in an interview with Christina Cook in TriQuarterly.
Born in Singapore, Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, cultural critic, and harp concertist who grew up in a hybrid of cultures in Europe, United States, and Southeast Asia. Her recent work includes two volumes of poetry, My Funeral Gondola (2013) and Water the Moon (2010), as well as several volumes of translation of contemporary Chinese, American, and French poets. A founding editor at Cerise Press and an editor at Vif Éditions, she lives in France. (www.fionasze.com)