Cover image:

Indecipherable To Me

The cover is aged,

old cracked leather,

and I can’t help but wonder

what secrets it might hold.

The paper is yellowed

and I had expected

inked script

but instead I’m staring down

at something that is

indecipherable to me.

Unlike another language,

where I can perhaps

hazard a guess

at the odd word or two,

this means nothing -

not to me.

Lines and dots,

squiggles and

signs -

some remarkably complicated,

even ornate.

To my untrained eye this is nothing,

but when I pass it to the cellist

he nods his head.

This paper tells of notes,

of times,

the beats are there

within the lines,

and as he reads

he turns what I had been unable

to decipher

into music for my ears.


Submitted: May 25, 2020

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Add Your Comments:


Jeff Bezaire

I have an easier time understanding hieroglyphs than I do sheet music.

Mon, May 25th, 2020 6:47pm


Yes, it's like a totally alien language with not so much as hint of what it means to those that have never learned to read music.
Thanks, Jeff.

Mon, May 25th, 2020 11:54am

Mike S.

I could never read music either, Hull; if it sounded good to me, it was good enough, excellent

Mon, May 25th, 2020 7:10pm


I had to learn at school but it was very much a case of in one ear and out the other. They say there is a big connection between Maths and music - maybe that's why I'm useless at both.

Thu, May 28th, 2020 12:16pm

88 fingers

Trying to read sheet music..I give up. In grade school, had a music teacher who would berate us for not being able to read music. So several of us lifted his Honda Civic and put it on the sidewalk in front of the Catholic school that I went to. "We don't need no education. Teacher leave those kids alone!"

Mon, May 25th, 2020 9:10pm


Maths and music - I was useless at both...and pretty much everything else too. Thanks, 88.

Thu, May 28th, 2020 12:33pm

Donald Harry Roberts

nicely done Hully

Mon, May 25th, 2020 10:34pm


Thanks, DH.

Thu, May 28th, 2020 12:39pm

Sue Harris

My mother was an accomplished pianist, but she could not play by ear, only to sheet music. My cousin became a gifted pianist, but he could not read music and played only by ear, both were equally brilliant. Just saying... reading sheet music is something I've never mastered. Interesting poem, Hully!

Tue, May 26th, 2020 1:39pm


We learned basic music notation at school, but that has all long gone from my mind. Thanks for giving this a read, Sue.

Tue, May 26th, 2020 1:08pm

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