Sunday, April 30, 2006

Number nine, number nine, number nine . . .

Claritas With A Splash

a man puts down his drink, reaches into a sack, withdraws a painting: young woman, fading colors, turn-of-the-century, and another man, ugly, lifts a glass to the woman's painted lips. she is baptized red in the redly pigmentation of cheap wine. immediately, her clarity works through my dirtiness. then the choir walks onstage, orderly, songbooks crooked in arms. i grow full. purrmutation. hushed choir "amen-ing."

i see myself, "tomorrow." the violin section leans in,
turns pages while the magnificent mezzo-soprano is pressed in and down by militaristic drumming until
her voice is the only ringed route of escape. one baggy-faced violinist and another paunch-cheeked clarinetist argue
accompanied by a wide-legged woman who bows on cello-strings. the room is no longer made of wood, not the hue of a red baptism, but cast in golden light. a child turns and asks, "who gave out the stars tonight?"

the stage is full. black sequins on velvets and silks. huge boulder buried beneath. above it all, wisps of white and balding pate; one man's back, two black buttons mark the split-seam of his long-tailed coat. from behind he resembles a night-locust conferring music on the world, and then a swan. he is too small for his wrinkled coat. symmetrically, he battens up deaf magnetudes in playfulness-and-sorrow. his is a song carried in the hands of a very old man, all the beauty of this one old man.

the very long-lipped bassist with thick glasses, the bony-faced chinese violinist, both look lost, serious. none of the women look as sad as the dogfaced men. still, they can't be thinking of each other--only their parts in the magnificent--only that. only fingers plucking strings, bouncing bows, every boundary locked in sound, closed in with wood and reed, parried by oboe and bassoon, shattered out of complacency by rising brass. how does one indicate the rising pluck from the descending rub? in that space, reverent stillness falls on everything. in that moment i too fall, back to earth. sitting in a barroom with a fading pink woman who's dressed in the color of something she drinks, i hear the refrain, the counterpoint, all. i hear nature and the star-child, the untenable, "play on."

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