GloPoWriMo – Day 15

Prelude

They say Bach composed cantatas during a pandemic
They say Bach sang chorales while those around him fell sick

But I know G
is the frequency
to make each cell in the body
vibrate in healing harmony

They say cellos sound most like the voice
of your lover, mother, boyfriend, spouse

I hear Bach talk
kitchen murmur
kettle simmer
quiet chat of him, her

Lose your parents, your first wife, your ten kids
out of twenty, you might choose intervals the church forbids

I’ll play!
I’ll bow.
I’ll live through
my cello.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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Summer House: Ch. 3

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C minor chords crash through the house. I can play as loudly as I want, as late as I want. The other side of the duplex sits empty. A family has rented it for the summer, all paid up through Labor Day, but they haven’t yet moved in.

I play Beethoven’s Fifth Sonata. It’s one of the easier ones–considered light, insignificant. But it still exacts payment in emotions.

During the school year, I can’t play Beethoven. I play Bach each morning: preludes, inventions, sinfonias. As I play, the loose tendrils of dreams become tied back onto the trellis, and the nagging fears and sorrows slide back into drawers. Bach spring-cleans mind and soul. When I stand at the front of the class, with twenty-five students gazing at me, if I’ve played Bach, I keep the attention on the day’s lesson, and I become unimportant: a cog in the engine of learning, and the students are the drivers.

I don’t dare play Beethoven before a day of teaching.

I play the Fifth Sonata in the summer house, while the other half of the duplex sits empty, while the ocean batters the beach below, while the clouds roll past the lighthouse towards the music room where no matter how pianissimo I play, chords crash down. Each minor chord severs the tether of another tendril, empties another drawer, and runners of the dreams grow through the spilled emotions, no matter how quietly I play.

This is why I can’t play Beethoven during the school year. I am raw, exposed, vulnerable.

But I play tonight.

It all swirls–before I realize, tears stream. What am I crying for? For the c minor chord. I feel these are not even my emotions–these are implants from Beethoven. What channels did he connect to that move through me?

Glaciers melt, and the sea inside opens, as waves crash, again, again.

I play until my fingers stop, and in the silence, I rise, following the shafts of moonlight out to the back meadow, to the bluff, overlooking the sea.

During the school year, I have to step back, always, from the precipice. If the ice flow melts, how do I move through a day? How do I keep it all together if I’m drowning in the release?

Sometimes I don’t think there is such a thing as silence, for when I become still and quiet, I listen. My pulse beats. The waves crash, again, again. My breath runs in shudders and long still rows of in and out. And beyond that… if light runs through everything, every crystal of every being, then we can hear a hum that is either too high or too low for our everyday ears but which we feel when the crystals within each of our cells resonates. I always hear music.

During the school year, I stop my ears more than I listen, for when I hear, the ice flows melt.

In my computer, in the inbox of my email, sit five messages from the department secretary, each asking the same question: When will I sign and submit my contract?

I have a few weeks until the deadline.

Right now, Beethoven has hooked me up with a channel of feeling, and the ice flows have melted, and the moon shines down, and the waves crash, again, again, and my pulse beats, and everything sparkles. Everything hums.

This I know: I want what is real.

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Three Rivers 26.1

Twenty-sixth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

AN: This CAS Sim represents my 1936 Oskar Meinel cello, who has a very sweet tone and responsive handling. Happy 80th Birthday to my cello! Belle Meinel lives in a home built by Pronterus which actually looks like a cello case!

26.  My cello

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Though the dry air felt severe to Belle Meinel, she loved her desert home, so different from rainy, green Markneukirchen, where she was born, or even Chicago, where she grew up and spent most of her life.

She hadn’t resisted moving here with her husband the doctor, when he chose to retire in Oasis Springs for his health. After he left her for a younger woman and returned to Chicago, she decided to stay. She was done with roaming.

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She found a small, comfortable home in a modest neighborhood landscaped with native plants and flowers for wildlife, birds, and pollinators.

When she met the neighbors that lived on the other side of the small park next to her house, she felt the click of kismet. Cathy Tea and her partner Jim Bee were also musicians.

“I heard you playing a Bach partita this morning,” Cathy said. “You play beautifully! I’ve been looking for someone to play with.”

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“You know Bach?” Belle asked.

“Man,” said Cathy, “Bach is the god at our home! Nobody like him, right?”

“I’ve always felt that,” said Belle. “When I play, I feel his music in my bones.”

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Bach had always been a part of Belle’s life. Many in her hometown revered Mozart. And she loved to play Mozart, too. But it was Bach whom her father had played, practicing the cello suites daily. So when she played the partitas, she connected with her history, and then with something even greater than that: the structure that seemed to lie at the center of creation.

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While Belle was getting acquainted with her new neighbors, the conservative party candidate and his campaign manager stopped by.

“Oh! The Conservative Party!” said Belle. “So delighted! My father was a conservative back in Markneukirchen.”

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“Watch out, Belle!” Cathy Tea said. “The conservatives here are nothing like the ones you’re familiar with from your youth! The party’s values have shifted. If you prize art, if you value the environment, if you think people are more important than profit, do your research! Get educated! It’s a new world, and it’s scary.”

J Huntington III laughed.

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Belle invited them all in for tea.

“It’s not like that,” Huntington said.”There’s really not that much that separates us from the Greens, actually. In fact, Alec Dolan, the Green Party candidate, and I are working together on a dual platform.”

“This I know!” Belle said. “I have a love of politics. I have been following the campaign. I’ve been listening to the speeches, attending the debates.”

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“Don’t buy it,” Cathy Tea warned. “It’s just an act. One of them isn’t for real. We just haven’t yet figured out which one.”

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“My father always told me,” Belle said, “to follow the money. I happen to know that one very prominent family is supporting both parties. The wife makes contributions to the one, while the husband channels funds to the other! If that isn’t a sign of collaboration, I don’t know what it indicates!”

“Marital rivalries?” Jim ventured.

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“Or maybe,” Huntington added quickly, “it’s just, you know, independence. Or even, another proof that support to one is support of the other. At any rate, Nancy–err, Mrs. Landgraab–is perfectly free to contribute to whomever she deems worthy.”

“And, judging by the way she shows up at every Conservative function,” Jim said, “it’s pretty obvious that she deems you and the Conservatives worthy.”

“Of course you’re worthy!” Belle exclaimed. “The Conservatives are History! They are Tradition! The old ways are the best ways!”

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Later, while Belle cleared up the kitchen, she asked Jim if he and Cathy were really against the Conservatives.

“Cathy is,” Jim said. “She doesn’t trust them. I’m not so quick to judge a candidate by his or her party. I’ll listen first to what the individual has to say and judge on his own merit. I like Huntington. I trust him.”

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Belle treasured her memories of her father’s political career, even though it had been politics that had forced them to leave Germany while she was just a toddler. But he’d become prominent in Chicago politics after they settled there. He’d never run for office, but, as a successful business man, he’d been influential.

When she was young, she thought that if she’d been a boy, she would have gone into politics. Since she wasn’t born in this country, she’d never be able to run for president, of course, but she felt that she had the logical, balanced mind that would make her a good member of congress.

Of course, being a woman in a time when one’s sex largely determined one’s career path, she took a different course. She never regretted becoming a musician, not when music was everything. But at the same time, she had, all of her life, enjoyed political analysis, whether considering history or the present times.

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A few days later, Belle had a chance to judge the Green Party candidate for herself. She encountered him, spouting nonsense about butterflies, during one of his campaign treks in their neighborhood.

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“I do support your Conservative Party partner,” Belle told him.

“You mean the rival of my bid for power?” Alec joked.

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“I mean your friend and collaborator, J Huntington III,” she replied. “I read you were working together.”

“Oh! That rumor has been spread!” he said. “Well, the wise know not to believe everything they read, no?”

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“Lies are so tedious,” she said. “The Conservative candidate, at least he knows to admit the truth. The honest candidate, that’s whom I support!”

Alec muttered, “So good to know we can count on your support, then. I must be going,” and he turned to continue his campaign trail.

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If Alec Dolan really was J Huntington III’s partner, as Belle suspected and Huntington had confirmed, then of course she would support him, too. But the pretense of rivalry should be dropped, that was certain.

There is always time for a new start, Belle thought in her practice room. And even when we start anew, it doesn’t mean we abandon the past. Just ask Bach: he will show that strength comes from continuity; no matter how many times one begins fresh, the structure of tradition remains.

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