Knowing no more of music than what you hear
you see three crows fly across four
power lines and think: Music!
And that is seeing. And that is love.
Maybe it has been easy, the greasy spoon
truck stop perpetuity of the highway,
change on the counter, a quick phone call
home. Maybe it has always been about retreads
and tarmac, neon writing on the windshield,
halogen street lights, the hollow mirror
of cold and breath. Expect the sky
to darken she says, staring ahead,
blank-faced, wide-eyed to the road.
Smoke fills the view, fills the car.
A gasket has blown, oil is everywhere
under the hood, lacquer black emission
controls burnt into artifacts. the manifold
smoking, that sick familiar smell
is home, a hole behind memory:
mystery is mechanical, a koan
hood-popped as traffic passes.
In the morning, windows open, blue,
she says Always expect the worst.
You hear motel sounds, doors slamming,
dishes and constant laughter. And that is
music. You hear the deep rattle cough
of the air conditioning kicking on.
She is near. There are sounds and steam
behind the bathroom door. That is love,
that music, the ghost that heels close,
cleaves with your shadow, lives in periphery
with sight and mirror. More and more
you sense its presence in things
you counted dead. The sounds
from the juke box, that soundless hiss
just before the stylus finds sound:
you sit and she smokes, talking
as you imagine grooves in black vinyl
traveling in circles, moving
towards your name. That music,
that dark flight carries in echoes
image, relentless. She says Innocence
is a close call at home plate, luck
is a sailor’s kiss, and you feel fever
break-- it is something like the smell
of winter, like the confusion of lick
and linger-- suddenly it is language
in a foreign land and you see the ghosts
of the ones you never buried
in the still mirror, standing sad-eyed,
alone. The sky darkens, a blue-black.
It is deeper than you’ve ever known.
It is could and the stars are strange
and you know you will never again wish
to sing in a voice so pure and clear.
You know why angels fall and land
unconscious, forgetting what it means to fly.