The first time we met she was all shuddered shoulders, chin dipped and he was standing, she sitting, he looming, she hunching, he talking, she slightly shaking her head. As if there was a tether between the two of them, at the sternum, pliant. She extending the distance, and he moving closer, closer. And because I could sever the thread, I did; I started class early.
If the body is an instrument, then range and connection requires touch; the instrument must trust the adjustments of hands.
The traditional spiritual “This May Be the Last Time” can be traced to multiple histories: some lost, some picked up, some reinterpreted, absorbed and re-discovered. The refrain (in this arrangement) is choral; solos, in different voices, punctuate the refrain.
If the body is an instrument, then range and connection requires touch; to “connect” means the vibration of body with the requirements of note, of tone.
Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson is angular, requiring the solo voice to compete with the accompaniment. The piano does nothing to support the singer – she must struggle to be heard. The piano subverts the lyric. It is, perhaps, the fulfillment of the strange dashes, those semantic-less words, caught in song. Not caught as in a web, a netting, a thing that holds and carries; caught as in a cage, a thing that holds and strangles. A discord, strident & striving.
Once, I asked my older brother how his favorite horse died. His first horse, the one he got when he could – land to keep her, a gate of his own rigging. “Well,” he said, “either her heart quit or she stopped breathing.”
If the body is an instrument, then range and connection requires touch; language is secondary.
“Light of a Clear Blue Morning” was a Dolly Parton song. We discuss Dolly in another class, where the students brainstorm for their paper on America. Dolly could be a rich symbol – this week after the Gatlinburg fire. Someone mentions “Jolene,” someone mentions “I Will Always Love You.” We talk about country music’s depiction of America. How Dolly is completely artificial; how she is completely genuine. The mezzo-soprano sings, “I’ve been looking for the sunshine ‘cause / I ain’t seen it in so long.”
To understand the notion of “unhomed” consider
displacement that is not physical; consider
second-generation immigrants, cultural Others, diasporas
of all kinds. Consider
a place once/was but no/more. Even
letters peel away
from the things they are said to name. Others are referred
to as “others,” but the naming is a second-generation
moniker that doesn’t place them even
within a linguistic home.
Two towns over, on a morning walk, a friend found the student who had been missing for two days. Late frost, early November warm, the moult of leaf mold, the still-green of moss; the dog and its particular attentions. The student had left a note. And it was a clear blue morning.
About C. Kubasta
About C. Kubasta
C. Kubasta lives and writes in central Wisconsin. Her poetry and prose celebrates the rural: the strange and beautiful, the awkward and forgiving. Despite the lower population density, she can always find plenty to write about. She is the author of two chapbooks, A Lovely Box and &s, and the book All Beautiful & Useless. A second book of poetry, Of Covenants, is forthcoming in 2017. Find her at www.ckubasta.com.