All the languages of art have been developed as an attempt to transform the instantaneous into the permanent.
– John Berger, The White Bird
I am distracted all day.
Miles away, my once-little girl has a new baby boy. Geography is an enemy, for I feel a primal call to be there, not here. As when years ago my other once-little girl died, also miles away, and the only thing that mattered was being there.
I cannot. I can only be here. This place. This moment.
A grandson takes his first nap in his crib. His parents, new to the role, are comforted by the monitor wrapped around him: his breathing rate is blessedly normal.
Elsewhere, a grandmother is dying. Her family is gathered round her hospital bed, hands holding hands, watching the dropping number on the screen, her falling oxygen level. All is quiet but for the whoosh of equipment.
Bookending our lives, machinery marks our unfathomable transience.
Her cheeks are wet.
The little girl at her classmate’s memorial service, singing Christine McVie with all her might, wishing for a voice big enough to lift all the pain away.
“And the songbirds are singing,
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before.”
She is a songbird.
Songs mark time, each note redolent in its presence, note after note, a succession of moments, a tumble of tale and remembrance.
Songs weave story, each chord another shuttle loom toss, colorful line after colorful line, so much bright and plangent beauty.
Songs begin, and they end. They are like life… except they can be played again.
I write this lying in bed, loath to get up. I love the suspended liminality between waking and rising, all the world still, Auden’s remonstration to stop all the clocks seemingly come true.
My grandson grips his mother’s finger in his tiny hand as tight as he can.
I wish for a song mighty enough to hold all the love, animate it, and keep it right here.