Sunday, October 02, 2011


Suddenly, Chopin is the theme of my life. On Friday, my massage downtown was done to his music – I have no idea which pieces, I don't know one from another, but I always recognize him, ignorant as I am: I had an album of his piano music, which was the only classical music I ever played back when it was usually Crosby Stills & Nash, or Simon & Garfunkle, on the record player. (Not the stereo: stereo was beyond my means, back then.) I loved the way the piano wandered, seemingly without direction. I've never been able to view the over-organized authoritarian march of symphonies as real music, however grand it may be: music that knows where it's going before it gets there leaves me cold.

So I stroked the chest of my poor South American exile, who longs for warmth, and thought of Schnackenberg's “Kremlin of Smoke,” about Chopin in exile in Paris, Warsaw falling to the Russians, and Chopin, having no more sense than any other musician, but having the extraordinary sense to simply follow the notes. That's all the sense we need. The only discipline we need. As if that weren't to say: all you have to do is the hardest thing in the world.

And then today, Luisa's poem about the ghost of Chopin rising from a Japanese bed:
However his name is said, its syllables
linger a little: sostenuto, the way water-
drops slide down the glass panes, the way

each prismed surface looks sheathed in another
skin; the way each bud in the garden might be
a heart embalmed, floating in a globe of fluid.
Sunday at Tom's. Coffee. Over there, a glossy girl of Japanese descent is sitting with a Caucasian couple – kindly, dowdy, gray, and stout. She is sparkling and making jokes, and wagging her index finger at both of them: they are rolling their eyes, but glowing with her warmth. They heave themselves at length out of the booth, and she lifts, hummingbird-like, without effort, to accompany them. Sage is right about how all these things converge to a message:
When I nearly knocked myself out in the garage as my brother and I were digging around in the bikes, I found myself on the floor with a pile of toddler toys on top of me. Was this The Universe playing a knock-knock joke where the punch line was my lack of playfulness? I don’t know; but it’s fun to guess.


Jayne said...

Converge to a message, or to a massage?! Things do converge. Absolutely.

Dale- Last week I had my first massage in, oh, probably about ten years! It was wonderful. New age music was playing softly. I rather wish it had been Chopin. ;)

Dale said...

Oh, hurray! I'm glad it was good. I think you have to ask for Chopin specially, though. Otherwise you get Enya or Navajo flutes :-)

(I can like either one of those, but actually Chopin is better massage music -- more swoosh and flow, more tide.)

Jayne said...

Next time, Dale! (And there will be one.) :)