through smoke

It was a beauty best heard through smoke, with your eyes closed, remembering something from long ago – a hazy memory, more feeling and quick flashes of faces than anything else, a treasure which escaped fitting words and wouldn’t be understood by anyone around anyway (but was only the more precious for it). There was a certainty, a finality, to those fleeting songs which belied their fugaciousness; in that moment, there is nothing else you would like more than for them to go on forever, and for a brief time you believe they actually will. Your cares are gone, elsewhere, have shuffled away to brood and left you in peace, and all that’s left is the wispy, thick air, and this sweet voice. It is a voice made to sing through smoke, in the same way certain things are meant to be said and heard by candlelight, shared in that flicker. The air was dark. We held onto her voice as it rested on the thick air, mysterious but self-assured; we followed the song as it led us somewhere else, somewhere we never thought we would be able to visit again (before realizing we’d never actually been there before). She was made to sing here, to a handful in the crowd. Her voice could ring to thousands, to the world, but she is content in the smoke and the blue lights, singing rusted lines from old poets, while all around her the simple ones continue on in their revelry. The musicians have a look about them which makes you think they are above time, travelers borrowed, visiting from some other place, wanderers from the land music comes from; every note was a step and the staircase climbed and twisted through the night toward their home. Their faces are steady, focused, but from time to time smiles break out, unbidden, revealing their own joy in the flowing, moving, dancing beauty. The simple ones about give not a thought to the bright and heavy words (far too pure for this place, with its grit and the grey streets) which arc through the air around them, wafting and rippling through the smoke which obscures everything except for this heavenly song.

Afterwards, as that which is not eternal must inevitably find its ever-approaching end, the song will cease and the air will be left still and surprised at the sudden departure of the music which gave it a dance, a heartbeat. Downcast, it will move on out the doors as a sighing breeze, joining the humid winds of a night which welcomes it warmly, without undue ceremoniousness, but with a knowing smile; for even the air must learn some things, and will be granted moments to be the body to the spirit of a song, in its due time, its circular course, as it goes to the world’s end and makes its way back again.

In the meantime, the music will guide us home…


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