So many early memories are of music. Caruso in the attic on the old Victrola; a visit to the circus where I couldn’t really see but the calliope was like an insistent relative, an uncle telling you that jumping into deep water was a fine thing. Never trust a calliope. And there was Tchaikovsky on the radio, Swan Lake which is pure heartbreak at any age but at four when I first heard it I drifted away like an airship filled with weeping people. So many memories. Don’t laugh. Wasn’t it Goethe who as a child heard apples muttering in a basket? I heard a voice from a window and there was no one there. One can be both Goethe and John Cage in early childhood.
I think Tchaikovsky’s piano trio in A Minor is the truest expression of early sadness.
Deep last winter.
I was alone but not unhappy. That was the thing. Wind up the Victrola, listen to incomprehensible words and musical notes. And sometimes hornets flew past my face. Was it Caruso who kept them away? Whatever the case the hornets never bothered me. The snick of the needle hitting the outermost circumference of the disk. The systolic static from the horn. One more second and the music would start.
I know you know.
Skepsis is in the bread.
Only the dead feel at home—“My father’s house has many mansions…”
“You have to understand,” the poet said, “life is a rented room, not much more.”
Sometimes I have to laugh
Thinking of piety, all those down payments
For what is essentially free. Death is its own house.
The windows are open, late winter, rain coming, the old curtains billowing.
So some music then.
Bring out the guitar
That cries in its own language
Remember, you don’t care for money.
You want children to play in safety.
Let the notes drop of their own accord.