1. CELLO SUITE by Gail Golden
For years I watched from balconies,
backs of auditoriums,
the lawn at Tanglewood,
watched the cellos,
watched the hands
in mysterious dance,
through the halls--
watched motions of bow
For years I said
I should play the celloʼ,
said it again over lunch with a friend,
heard at last the desire
throbbing between words,
left the diner consumed with intention,
floated through details as if in a dream,
renting the cello, finding the teacher,
climbing the stairs for the lesson at last.
It was easy.
I am transported by the smell of rosin,
grooved fingers, and the sound
vibrating against me
into my chest,
though I can scarcely endure
the unbearable noise,
Brahms lullaby as it was never
meant to be played.
Summer mornings I practice,
enraged. How dare anything
be this hard. Perspiration
shoulders ache, bifocals steam.
My whimsy becomes
a grotesque assault against
all that is beautiful.
Yet I love the tiny, freckled teacher whose hands fly from note to note,
her frayed sweater exuding elegance when she plays,
need how she finds purpose in my confusion,
love Saturday lessons, scurrying up Broadway
balancing cello, purse, umbrella,
find inspiration in the teacher
ʼs room above
a violin shop,a room barely furnished,
but profuse with music.
For months the violinmaker scowls, knows I am an impostor,
unworthy of dusty rooms where instruments
hang from walls, lie on tables, awaiting his strange tools.
Others more skilled confer with him, whisper
over beautiful brown instruments.
I pass through.
A friend asks,
ʻdo you still play the celloʼ
and I say,
ʻyes but Iʼm not any goodʼ,
and he says,
ʻdoes it matterʼ?
Another friend and I recall teenage years
when each of us played piano, sonatas glowing
through winter afternoons.
Yet we both stopped, mortified at not being Horowitz
or Rubinstein,or the high school prodigy
who played every assembly.
Capable, with modest talent,
we loved the music enough for a lifetime
and simply stopped.
Whenever I practice, the dog seems pleased,
runs for a squeaking toy frog, then chews her noise
along with sounds I torture from strings.
Others in the house play radios, wearily close doors,
and I, sympathetic, still long for a time when people will
open their doors to listen. Why?
I am sounding better. Sometimes
I can close my eyes and find
the right place on the string.
Hands and eyes hear, I feel
sounds, can play longer before
back and shoulders throb.
When autumn brings cool air,
the violinmaker replaces the bridge
on my cello. He no longer scowls.
I practice in a room with a large window and a mirror.
Just outside, a feeder hangs from the porch.
Birds swoop past, stopping to feed.
The teacher says keep shoulders
down, fingers down.
In the glass I see brown hair, eyes, cello,
feel contorted with struggle,
but my reflection looks serene.
With spring, I reopen windows,
play etudes to an easy breeze.
The birds, seeming to hear,
respond, a feathered orchestra of sound.
Cello song, bird song, spring song,
breathing to music,
I play the morning.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sarabande, from Cello Suite No. 1, by J.S. Bach
2. OUR PIERROT IN AUTUMN by Jack Peachum
"Je est un autre"- Rimbaud
1. "Hip to all that jazz–," yet still,
that organ heart expresses his dull pain.
Don’t worry, it will pass with night,
and dawn and the chill of rain.
2. But then above the counterpane,
along the covered surface of my knees,
the white Pierrot must come and sit
and smile at me and sneeze.
3. Oh, white Pierrot, if you please,
are there not two of you?
One in black, perhaps, or grey,
to suit a different mood, a graver hue?
4. No? Then one must do,
will do quite well to sit above the counterpane.
Pierrot, my boy, there are tombstones in your eyes,
and your arms are full of the dripping rain.
5. Turn from the window, Love, turn from the rain,
and come to bed with me.
Pierrot has filled my eyes with clownish pain
and the rain is on my knee..
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Capriccio for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc
3. BEAUTIFUL ME by J. Cisto
I’m in the youth of my life
A small stream, serene
Unfiltered waters that move like
The youth of my being
Over and on and stretching beyond
I see the river
I see the mountains
I see the mills
I see the fountains
And O how I want to be large
Full of mass and moving fast
I’m thicker now
& feel it moving quicker now
I’m in the stride of my life
Gaining momentum, paying attention
But what I wouldn’t pay
For my remembered vibrations
Sensations of might
Fill my mind
Fill my body
Fill my soul
Fill my time
I grow and I age
I’ve sown and I gave
Only the ocean’s left
I’m in the stead of my life
No one could fill in for me
Instead life moves through my waters
Cleansing the daughters of my daughters
They flow through me
Adding to me
Passing through me
Splashing through me
Laughing to me
They’re ready to rise
High as rivers and tides
I feel so calm
Calm as when I first began
And rose to the ocean
Like flowers on sand
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: It Was A Very Good Year by Ervin Drake (part of the inspiration for this poem, according to the poet).
4. SIMPLE AND SWEET by Kayla Yandoli
Here we are yet again
Playing music that changed our trend
Tuning, the strings, all in one key
To fit my words, simple and sweet
Just like the rush of the sea
I know where we are is where we should be
Learning, the roots, I never lived
Through your heart, simple and sweet
It’s coming around again
Laughing to jokes, we thought would never end
Singing, to Neil, in the heart of our leave
On your porch, simple and sweet
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER by Harry Warren
5. HOW I HAVE FOUND IT IN YOUR OLD AGE SMILES by Evie A.T.
Each second, each minute, and each hour are passing by hastily
Each day, each month, and each year does the exact same thing,
And I found it really disheartening . . .
How could I ever explain my misery to you?
Would you even understand if I ever try to explain it?
I am witlessly uneasy, realizing how my childhood had left me long ago
I am vigorously nervous, noticing how my adulthood is starting to leave me too
I am hopelessly fearful seeing how my old age is preparing itself to greet me soon.
Am I senseless for having such sorrows?
(My mind is filled with series of despair thoughts every single day)
Have I been foolish for having such fears?
(My sleep is haunted by series of daunting nightmares every single night)
And, I wonder . . .
Aren’t your day also filled by the same despair thoughts?
Aren’t your nights also haunted by the same daunting nightmares?
But, I guess you are not . . .
Because . . .
You always seem so happy, filled with delights
And it is all shown through the grandeur of your old age smiles . . .
It’s kind of hard to explain . . .
But I somehow realized that,
I am soothed seeing your smiles
I am contented picturing your smiles in my mind
And, I found my peace from those heartwarming smile of yours
Through your old age smiles,
I am reminded that aging is an ineluctable fate,
It is the course of life not to be disquieted, questioned or opposed.
Through your old age smiles,
I am reminded that life is just like a story
And, I am the only liable writer of my very own life journey
It is my duty, to live it well and to end it well
Ensuring it will be a story worthwhile telling . . .
I must not let any part of it goes wasted unnecessarily,
Letting it turn into some kind of pitiable existence which worth nothing
Through your old age smiles,
I found my way to put my senseless sorrow and foolish fear faraway
I am inspired to cherish everyday of my life delightfully
And . . .
Seeing as, there is nothing worth more than the chance to live in the moment blissfullyTherefore, there is no reason for me not to smile as I am greeting each of my new days
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F (2nd movement) by Dmitri Shostakovich