Thursday, July 7, 2016

Regeneration in three songs

A time of babies: grand-daughters, the first children of my children.

First there is Mirabel. I can hold her while she sleeps. The music from my head is by Thomas Tallis--If ye love me--one of those motets that puts your mind's ear in a cathedral empty but for you, the supplicant hiding behind a massive column, and, way up in front, a choir hiding behind a rood screen. It is late spring in the Shenandoah Valley where the flowers breathe history.


Then there is Edith. I am an ambulatory cradle in the hospital room, wocking (walk/rocking) her to the whispered tune-beat of Wabash Cannonball. It would be embarrassing for anyone to hear besides her. But she is fine with it and sleeps with the understanding that the lonesome one calling is not a hobo but an oboe. It is early summer in Knoxville 101 years after the one that Agee passed through Barber, but the magnolias are the same even if assaulted on all sides by construction as if it were Longstreet.


In between Mirabel and Edith is the final departure of my wife's mother. She has been on the decline for a while, and her death is not unexpected. But a mother's death puts a hole in your heart that never heals.

I hear from my son recently that he is singing Gaelic songs to Mirabel. I learn this with Brahms in my head. He is there often; my mother introduced him. I still have her book of 70 songs by him, for low voice and piano, with page dog-eared by her (who schooled me in this heresy) to the lied that most often piques my consciousness.

I could swear it has fragrance--not the page, but the very thought of the melody. Of course this is just my imagination. But isn't that all we have anyway? The sun-fueled yearning--the Brahmsian Sehnsucht--to follow the senses into and beyond whatever eternal quality the womb imparts?

Hearing Mama Singing

No comments:

Post a Comment