It May Well Be A Song

A cat climbed up what I thought to be a delicate tree outside the studio windows until it could see in, then proceeded to look distressed. I agreed to not assist it, then walked outside and placed food and water at the base of the tree. As I approached, the cat yowled and pawed the air between us. Young, already nursing, detached from her litter. I gave up and went to get the ladder as well.

A tiny woman threw her orthopedic cane almost in my path, then started to crumple forward onto the sidewalk while holding onto the wrought iron gate of her apartment foyer. Permit me, I said, putting the cane back in her hand. She instructed me to the hold the gate open so she could leave the building in her motorized cart-chair-scooter-device, that noun-stumping hybrid vehicle that moves people through places at about three miles an hour as opposed to three feet a day. I did. Off she went. I shook off the thought of her waiting for, then assaulting, another person to assist her in getting back in.

I read an excellent article in the New York Times while eating my breakfast, and momentarily thought that I lived in an engaged time of considered opinion, with daily opportunities for enlightenment and erudition. As I was finishing my coffee I offered the paper to other diners, but no one accepted. Yes, I was little surprised, especially since I had found the New York Times there when I sat down. No one was claiming it. I refolded it neatly and left it on the corner of the table. By the time I poured my coffee out of the glass cup and into the paper one so I could take it across the street into the other studio, the paper had been bussed into a tray with plates and syrup and sausage and napkins and fistfuls of spoons.

The Fugazi song in my head makes all other songs impossible. Still I write one out while waiting for everyone to arrive: A young woman patiently explaining to us what she does, being as she’s an insurance underwriter, and in her experience no one really understands her work, so she’s helping us along, in advance, in case we’re confused, which is very likely, and nothing to be ashamed of, because she’s here to help. Unfortunately we all understand insurance underwriting already. Most of us have made conscious decisions to avoid it and scorn its perpetrators. She misreads our inscrutable silence as an inability to make an intelligent remark about her profession. I look it over and draw a diagonal line through it, then turn the page. At the top of that page I write:

The Ballad of The Way Crossed Singer

Which is about a tedious moment when a woman singing on stage was so involved it appeared as though she might tip over backward. She didn’t, but I imagined she did. I imagined she hit her head on the edge of the kick drum, fell into a coma, and never recovered. I thought about the note that sent her backward and how she would hear it forever. I imagined you could see the note swimming in the still pools of her eyes.

Everyone arrives and the question is put on the table: who has any new pieces?

I say nothing.

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