Posts Tagged ‘love songs’

I came here for the river, iron table
on wood at the water’s edge, for an imagined respite
of a midday meal by a somnolent laze,
broad and shallow on a smooth bed.

But here, now, I can hardly draw my eyes
from the leaves, brown-gold showers that rest and start,
as if a hand stirred each deciduous
bough at once. The measured drop of foliage,
sails, parachutes, a mix of species flocking on a draft,
all pausing together like a breath held
before the first note of Copland, or the even,
arresting drop of a veil, petals scattered before silk-shod steps.

And then, at once they’re loosed from limbs,
the sound the first staccato murmur
of drizzle on tin in spring,
wooden clatter of a mala stroked in meditation,
swarming beetles’ green wings
clacking as they wheel and pitch.

I think: I also have the air
to thank for this. The breeze that coaxes what’s spent
to let go, which invisibly resists the downward
torrent. Without this air by the river, in
meters per second per second
they’d plummet like shrapnel, ballast,
lead weight on the end of a line.

I sit in the dappled sun, with rice, squash and trout,
waiting on the surge.


Liner note

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Briefly immortal in the penumbral
hush of a library –
saved there as memory – in a life unreal
but not unforgotten.

Did those virtual moments,
that shelved span with no knowledge of
TARDIS or Time Lord,
soften their eventual erasure?
The walling off of a stellar existence –
companion to the Doctor –
a life pursued not
as rescue or escape,
but premeditated adventure,
planned and packed for?

Your final disembarkation
to fixed time and dimension
may have left you, again,
just a temp,
too loud, too coarse,
but even then, you’re the only one
(since the Doctor came around again)
not to be besotted, the only
one to have been, briefly,
a Time Lord herself, the
only one without the luxury of memory.


Liner note

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Before an audience of game designers, after
two days prodding the collision
of art and mechanics, of
how a player in a game is art,
a speaker tells a story:
A famous violinist plays for tips
(I say, that was Joshua Bell.)
someplace filled with busy people
(It was a Metro station, during rush hour.)
on a million-dollar violin
(A Stradivarius. It was his Stradivarius).

And then, once too often interrupted, point forgotten,
the speaker moves on (and I know I’m an ass).
I try to believe that he first had a query,
“What was his name?”
until the man behind me asks,
“But what was the point of the story?”
To sum up: He played, and no one paused.

As a child, when music classes moved from
rhythm instruments and songs
to chorus, band or strings,
I had one aspiration: to play my great-aunt’s violin,
handed down to my mother, bearing
family stories of forbidden music
played in secret, of my grandparents’
secret courtship in the graveyard.

Mine was a comical proposal for a cracked instrument.
Not long until I let it go, never rising beyond
mechanical accuracy among sheet and bow and string.

Perhaps in those two years, I shored up my eventual delight
on finding that music is math, the harmonic
resonance of strings, halves and thirds and finer lengths
that match to frequencies, the shapes of
instruments and the shapes of waves,
all pressures traveling through matter
to the tympanic membrane, each mundane part
of what makes it music as mechanical
as my practice on a secondhand violin.

But my delight’s enriched
in the tale of the busker (Joshua Bell) in the metro
(The story won a Pulitzer) who also, on “The Splendid Table,”
made Italian pasta from the age of Stradivari (Thank you,
Lynne Rosetto Kasper, for keeping him from knives,
but a caramelizing burn is just as ruinous).
The harmony arises from knowing, in the collision
of music and mechanics, of art and games, fingers
that pluck music from an 18th-century violin
may also, when the instrument is put away,
turn to controller, Unreal, Quake.

Liner note

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