The music of Bach offers a spiritual reflection in the midst of everyday domestic duties.

The poet is Elizabeth Burns and the poem comes from her posthumous collection, Lightkeepers (Wayleave Press, £12). The poem can also be found in the Autumn 17 issue of  Southlight 22(Wigtown Festival Company, £5) together with a warm appreciation of the poet by Mike Barlow.


Finally, I’m done with the phone calls and everything else
and when I switch on the radio it feels like lying in salt water –
all I need to do is breathe: Bach will keep me afloat.
I’m mixing yeast into flour, making rolls for my daughter’s
birthday breakfast in the morning, kneading and kneading
the dough then setting it to rise, arranging in a glass
the last of the tiny pink roses with a sprig of green,
finding the blue candles and ironing the tablecloth,
the one my granny embroidered, sweeping the floor,
thinking about the hot August night of the birth,
and about the people we met on Westray last week,
and the presents I still need to wrap, and Bach himself
who is like a mountain covered in wildflowers,
and the singers in the Albert Hall who, the conductor says,
get close to godliness through this performance;
and I’m wondering, as all those voices fill my kitchen
with the Mass, if this is what he means: the sense
of time and place dissolving, so what divides us
from the past and elsewhere, and from each other,
falls away, and everything’s connected and we are all
drops of water in this enormous breaking wave.