Her Song, #149

When she sings,
and the voice of the composer,
the hum of the violist,
the draw of the first cellist
to mouth a tune plays under her,
lifts the light rising
from her vocal chords
and gives the vibrations timbre,
her eyes shut as her chin reaches up,
to the lights and the balcony.
The techies on the catwalks
who aim their great spots
down onto each denizen
in the chorus,
onto the lot of them
lost in this music.
For a moment,
each of them invisible.

When she sings,
all the birds who migrated
from the cold winter
perk their heads
and turn back toward the north,
wonder at least
if spring has come
and if it’s time to go home,
even though every suggestion,
every sign says to them,
stay away, stay warm.
They still hear the song
and wonder what best
could become of coming back early.
Is her song her song?
And if so, the birds hear
her suggestion,
feel their confusion lifted.

When she sings
her eyes are all outward,
her voice, all outward,
and for a moment
the cold cellar of her mind,
the one the churns
on all night and forces her
to not rest, that twists
her body onto one shoulder,
then the next.
The locked door in her mind
is at peace, bolted shut and settled.
For those notes,
nothing more
than a whisper inside.

It’s a voice
that comes from the pit
of her stomach,
a chorus that lives
below the button
and whispers its notes up,
faces that find themselves
often in conflict
when she is not singing,
faces that just as soon snipe
and bite at each other,
tear down her esteem
and suggest perhaps
there is no value
to a life lived,
only value
living a life in chorus.

It’s a voice
like a shield
with its painted symbols,
its dedication to a canon
and to fodder,
to raise faces
to master composers
long dead, who lived
their lives in confinement,
raised from youth
to be the slave of a king
or country, who paid
happily a pittance
for work that should have
commanded a fortune.
To this ideal, the choirs sings,
and to the life lived
only for the art of it.

It’s a voice
that raises hands
like the limbs of trees
out to reach for the light
given and the light
that must be fought for,
divided among the sopranos
in the forest, arms meant
to welcome the animals
back from the hunt,
the farmers out in the fields,
welcome the unwashed
who’ve come in from the rain
to partake of a nip of high culture.

Walking out,
she’s forced to admit
to herself that the orchestra
is out of tune,
that the audience
came to be seen in their dresses,
that the conductor
is sleeping with the first violin
and that the first violin
is sleeping with the maestro
only to keep her chair.
the choir is off-key,
the woman behind her
couldn’t carry a tune
in a bucket.
Her own worth
is constantly questioned.

Walking out,
she stands on chairs
to appear taller,
places eight legs on the ground
to straighten herself,
to give her voice
some stillness, hold her head
above the rest. The whole world
is on that stool below her,
trying to keep its parity,
to hold on,
but the vibrations
rising from the chorus,
the cyclic rising and falling,
the turn of the wind
into a tornado
makes such balance impossible.

Walking out into the street
she sees the passing cars,
lays one hand
down at her side,
uses the other to hail a cab.
In the back seat
she lets the sweat
bead off her brow,
and the oppressive smell
of the city wash over her.
When the cabbie asks,
she hands him a slip of paper
through the slit in the plastic.
No voice need be spoken
once the day has been sung.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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