A Piper Prepares

Pete Mullineaux

It’s almost like shooting up: a captivating ritual –
the belt looped around the forearm; buckle
notched, blowpipe joined to leather bag; a shard
of cloth folded between elbow and rib for comfort –
trusted talisman, guardian against the unknown
and unnamed – keys, bars with no endings. Drones
are attached like pistol silencers, regulators poised –
and now, the popping strap – the ‘piper’s apron’
a leather patch, spread across the thigh; you’d think
for protection from the crazed jabs of the chanter,
its manic hypodermic dance. In fact, the placing there
will cause a glottal stop, suspension of sound, a near-
death, allowing trap-door drop, down the pit-shaft
of the octave to low D: belly-forge, base underworld
from where a primal hum vibrates, connects –
fixes on the spinal cord, sends a hit exploding
into the skull’s chamber. The head reels, a gasp
for air as the bellows fill and suddenly there’s life
in the lungs and wind in the reeds, escape – we’re
up and away – tripping over the scales, flying
above the Walls of Limerick, the never ending
Siege of Ennis – hello and goodbye to Rocky Road,
Wheels of the World, Hills and spills of Donegal –
heading towards that high high doh…