Music, Outdoors

Echo Location

She scrapes bow across strings whose low moan rises to a shriek.  Her elbow a piston, it turns the wrist in a blurred ellipse that frees a cry, a frenzy.  Two boys appear from behind the stage, leaping sideways across the brush that separates this place from the garden plots where an old woman in a headscarf shambles between rows watering broad petals of cabbage.  One of the children waves a stick like a flag.  His face is a wide grin that says, see me, see me.

Another boy in a man’s body perches on the edge of a chair on this portable stage.  Shaggy hair falls across his forehead as he leans into the music.  He is from Ireland and lives in Portland where he has his pick of women.  He does to the accordion what Kobe Bryant does to a ball.  We call this thing “playing,” this version of play unlike anything the rest of us will ever experience.

Bent at the waist ever so slightly, he gazes far off towards what must be the west where a weary August sun peels back the day’s skin and exposes the pink, swollen flesh of dusk.  The grown boy’s fingers are dervishes in harmonious riot, balletic and blind, somehow whirling an unbroken ensemble piece on that tiny stage of keys.  I look where he is looking — in the direction at least because what he sees is all his own.  I want to imagine his eyes fixed on a montage of hills, rain, soil-scarred hands lifting open a latch and reaching for him.  Just as likely, behind his eyes growls a gauntlet of fractured traffic between the airport and the next gig.  Or a dim wash of notes.  When I look that way, I see only the deep outline of trees against a sky now a garnet throb.

Then the breath, the snared half-second of surprise when bow and key and string and drum, all stop —

it’s only a pulse of the heart yet it stretches, stretches like the still air across embouchure, its reverberation through a valley of brass.  It stretches like a quantum measure that is neither real nor measurable.  Swelling up into that pause (which may be the end of all history and also may not contain a single new beginning) surges the cry of cicadas thick in the shadowed branches.  Through the crack too flaps the leather wing of one bat dipping for a moth then careening off, this also in the direction our accordion boy looks but doesn’t see.  Not what I see see anyway, and certainly not what the bat sees, though his vision may be closer to that of his chiropteran brother, a sightless echoing that delineates a terrain through sound, through a chorus of shape and motion.  Maybe he draws a whole universe like this, one round, rapid beat after another firing across a field of night.


Change, Friends, Poetry

Rock Candy

Seven months pregnant at least, she drags
me to a shrieking arena jeweled in
lip gloss and taffy, stripped
lights dazzling up black panels four stories high.
He is only a doll down there,
Adonis in skinny jeans
strutting on a flash strobe stage jutting out
into the reaching damp arms of ruby-throated
pubescent hunger, baby birds one and all
wide for whatever might fall
from his ambrosial smirk

She in bubble gum pink, dizzy eyes tearing
up as they do for anything
moving even one cilia of her porous borders,
she presses over the balcony, weight
of son threatening to topple her
over to the much more merciful
end of this story

But she manages to stay
tethered to gravity and bounces in place
for omigod
whatever spoonful of sugar
she can get
which is all any of us
can hope for

From the mass of chirps and squeals
he lifts one stunned, nameless nestling
to his bridge and twines a purr around her
heart, blouse spitting buttons almost
from the impact
before he straight up kisses
the anyone who could be
me or omigod omigod
my friend in pink

She fans hot air over hotter face
with a hand not yet weighed
down by the rock
that will eventually take her
almost completely
under to a place that air has long since
vacated and left only a plundered
locker where the bones are kept

But for one glass bauble
floating somewhere up near the skin
of night
and its faithless promise,
a little curl of the child
she is
herself and to whom she is
now bound, she must reach
towards surface
no matter how tempting
the song,
that lustrous snaking siren
of surrender