Posts Tagged ‘singing’

Big Love




singing the same song

again and again—

each time, finding new wings

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There are yet words that come near the unsayable,

and, from crumbling stones, a new music

to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.


—Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two X



Before bed, my daughter asks me

why in school they learn to sing,

I mean, she says, it’s not like that’s

what we’ll do when we grow up.


And part of me longs to answer her

with stories of my own—

how the stone of our losses dissolves

into tune, how we become wave,


become surge, blur with tone,

how song opens up every door

we might close, how it holds us

when nothing and no one else will.


Instead, I tuck the question

under her pillow as she climbs in bed,

hope it finds the trapdoor into her sleep,

hope the unsayable answer will weave itself


into her dreams like a river,

like light in a forest, like a breeze

in July, like a song that finds the lips

again and again and each time makes them new.

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Walking on the muddy path, I try

to convince myself it would be easy

to be happy. I’m not hurt, my family is well,

and the sun is almost out. I tell myself,

look, look how the ice from last night’s storm

clings to the tips of the branches

and, as it melts, see how the whole world

seems to gather in a drop. But there is a snarl

deep within that is snagged in the thorns,

trapped in the ice, intent on locking itself

out of heaven. It scowls at the wind,

at the sound of the traffic, it grimaces

at the story of itself and retells the same

sad story. It is hours later I notice

how easy it is to fall in love with the world—

how it takes no effort, no convincing at all

to weep at the beauty of hundreds of people

singing together, oh the deep melting,

how the whole world gathers in a drop.




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Hurry, Hurry




So when we get to the measure

in the Hungarian folksong

where a man begs a boatman

to carry him across the sea

where his lover is waiting,

we decide as a group to sing it hushed,

hushed but urgent, says Jenny,

and we all agree, though when we get

to the phrase, we all forget the hush

and collectively belt out his longing

like a celebration, urgent and vital,

of all the longing that rings the world,

all the ways we yearn to connect, to love,

to stand beneath the window

of the one we adore and say

here, I am here.

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Our lives are full of unexpected surges of kindness that seem to come from nowhere.

—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening



Under the plum tree

I sit with a stranger

and sing for an hour

the old songs—

we take turns

with the melody

and the harmony

and for this time

the heart forgets

the word loneliness

and the plums fall

red and heavy

into our un-expecting hands.


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It’s poetry set to music … come hear Heartbeat in concert. Seven women singing all genres of music, a cappella.

Here’s a link to an article about our group and what one might expect at the concert.


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I hear America singing, varied carols I hear.
–Walt Whitman

After the mashed potatoes were passed
and after the wine was sipped from the glass
and after the children had left their plates
and before we were ready for pie and cake
we sat around the table and sang
Hotel California, Scarborough Fair,
Morning Has Broken, Walk the Line,
Blister in the Sun, Wild Mountain Thyme
Moon River and My Romance,
Blood on the Saddle, If I Were a Rich Man,
and the words we didn’t know we hummed
or we la-dee-dahed until we found
a phrase to lead us in again.
It’s so like music, gratitude,
the way it draws us closer in
and makes the world feel intimate,
as if anything could happen,
even peace, even love.

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Heartbeat singing at the Dolores River Festival, June 2014for Heartbeat

Here, rest in my voice
on this note we share.
And when you breathe,
I will carry the song.
And when I breathe
I know you’ll be there.
And this is how
the song goes on.
And this is how
we disappear.

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Cosi e’, se vi pare
(That’s the way it is, if it seems that way to you)
—Italian saying

Under my fingers,
the chords are familiar,
allegretto, in 2/4 time.
I lean into the ritardandos,
swelling the passing tensions,
failing to remember to exhale.
The lyrics, perhaps because
they are in German,
are beautiful. I can forget
that they speak of sleepless
nights and helplessness,
and dreams that languish
unfulfilled. My voice drifts
into the rafters. What
do I know of dreams?
There is so much I do not know.
Even this life I call my own.
What do I know of it?
Who taught them to sing,
the birds in autumn?
Who taught them to dance,
the leaves? Tonight, I do not see them,
the shadows my voice moves through
as I follow the staffs in front of me.
Nor do I think of translation. Nor
do I think of who is listening,
nor of who is not. For now,
there is Schumann and Heine,
there is this voice that is borrowing me,
there is this song that says
it must be sung.

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We were better at it then.
On the muddy desert river
in our yellow rubber boat,
you would sit in front
and I would sit in back
and as our bow
would slide onto the glossy
slick tongue of the rapid,
we’d begin to sing.
Opera. Neither of us
knew a thing about opera,
except that it made us feel
invincible to sing the highest
notes we could hit and to hear
each other trilling just above
the white roar. We thrilled
at the edge of chaos. Joy
in our ignorance. Confusion
did not seem to have the same
bite it does now when you call
me to say the surgery is Wednesday
and you’ll know then if the three tumors
are malignant. I do not sing
when you tell me. Nor after we hang up,
unless you call whimpering song.
Which perhaps it is, though I do not
feel brave, standing on the edge
of this new chaos, you in front
again, this current much stronger
than we can paddle against. I feel
our humanity, how the end is all
wrapped up in the middle,
the beginning, how little we know
and how fragile we are. I look
out the skylight at the buds
on the cottonwood trees.
They are swelling, though not
yet green. They do not resemble
what they will become,
but experience tells us
to expect a bright green unfurling.
We have no experience now
with what comes next. But we
do know how to sing a high warble,
trill it high above the hospital hum.
I am rusty, but mustering the voice
to sing to you from here,
even though I no longer believe
it will keep us from sinking.

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