Dancing to Architecture
A 4/4 beat
the bass a whiteboard marker on fibrous paper
soaking deep on the 2 and 4, countered by a
tik-tik-tik-tik-tik-tik-tik tickling the hairs
on the back of your hand.
Ribcage pounding stands for
then is joined by a whale-cicada whistle
leaving a space for flute and keyboard
entwining on-off, on-off, off-on
and so on.
Bells grow ears to hear themselves.
Steam hisses on the 3
and in the distance
the engine of a ‘78 model Datsun 200B
fails to turn over.
Bass ink seeps deeper
and the flute flirts in and around
darting between and underneath
a curtain of sound
that parts for the singer.
Music gathers around her ankles,
caresses her hips and elbows.
A melody comes to rest on her wrist.
She considers it, sparkling like a bracelet,
now serious, now cheeky,
now trilling, now humming.
She smiles and frowns.
Her diaphragm shifts upward.
The melody alights from her fingers.
Alveoli expand and breath collects
and as the whale-cicada-flute-bass
drapes over her,
hiding her from direct vision,
Words in Gaelic, Binary and Wautharong,
this is the song.
It is food, air, fire and water.
It is self-extinguishing,
raw and true.
When it happens, you will know.
Before it happens, you will be waiting.
Wait with me. All wisdom is simply that.
Clichés are false and true.
She closes her eyes. The Datsun’s engine
turns over and roars into the fore.
The bass acknowledges.
The engine stirs the brew
and the singer retreats behind the curtain.
A pattern is established, a loop of rhythms and melodies.
Pulsing like steel, muscular like a tree,
delicate like nerve endings,
it slowly and steadily withdraws from memory,
repeating ‘til fade.
You press play, and it begins again.
This week’s poem was written in response to the gutpunch-amazing “Alarm Call” by Bjork, was originally published on Agnieska’s Dowry back in 1996 or thereabouts, and then appeared in The Third Fruit is a Bird. For more of my poems, head to the Books or Other poems and stories sections of this site.
Come back next week for another poem. And to find out what I’m working on and where you can read my latest writings, sign up for Adam’s Occasional Poetry News.