The Orchestra


Fifth Estate # 388, Winter, 2013

7:58 pm

in this quiet, working class

Montreal residential neighbourhood

the orchestra starts

one person

walks slowly down her stairs
sets a solitary rhythm

taps a pot with an egg beater

looks around hopefully

8 pm

half way down the block

a smiling grandfather

and his shy teen grandson

leave their apartment

join her, walk behind

beating their own rhythms

tentatively spoons on frying pans

8:02 pm

100 metres later, a mother and two girls

run out their front door pots and pans


now 6 people strong

this percussion group

walking, smiling, drumming louder

8:05 pm

on the next corner

three similar small groups

join in, now over 30

beating their own rhythms

on kitchenware

still walking on the sidewalk

8:10 pm

on the next corner 3 more groups

join swelling the group to over 50


now officially–according to the new Law

restricting demonstrations–

an ‘illegal gathering’ with no permit

subject to immediate arrest and fines

8:15 pm

they turn the corner

hundreds of them beating pots and pans

dozens more residents contribute

rhythms from their balconies

as the marchers pass

8:30 pm

now over 1,000 strong, swelling with pride

sharing joyous, feverish urban tribal

another nightly free concert

marching 30 abreast in the street

no destination in mind
stopping cars everywhere

some drivers honking, smiling, thumbs up

bar customers stepping outside cheering

this multi-neighbourhood orchestra

supporting striking students
denouncing unjust laws

marching, protesting

and still growing

call it magic