living in elegy: open city

Evie Shockley

the music — vijay iyer’s music — chimes, thumps, piercing

          sweetness, brass bellflowers, vibratos, and gut strutting — so

                    phisticated and direct — dropped my pulse into suspension

          for uncounted minutes, before building or leaping to an in

sistent string of !*!!@***@!!@@!*!!!!**@@@!*!!! — exclamation

                    points and other wildish signs that danced round my neck

          and beneath my feet. it was jazz that rigged me to it and,

through it, to other equally wide and deep wells of sound.

          i wanted the music’s embrace seamless, but a voice, woman’s,

                    white, a bomb exploding with its own joy, kept cutting in.

i have been taught by everyone and no one that my desire

          in this moment — for silence, a transparent globe of concent

                    rated quiet, to surround the sounds on stage — to voyage

          through a space in this holy encounter that will move my

mind more than transport my body — represents the death

                    of something african in me, capitulation to a western soli

          tude, a european worldview, my plaintive soul, leaving, soon

gone. i miss the days long past when i could swallow my

          pleasures whole, without the charnel undertones or rank

                    aftertaste of irony. have i said goodbye to the pork-pie hat?

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