Monday, March 24, 2008

Eternity in the Key of C


I tap the yellowed piano key with a bony index finger,
a C that stirs the marble-top bureau,

family pictures, wine glasses in the oak cabinet.
A French tapestry captures the one-note melody,

an orphan tone already dying.
I examine the faded oriental rug,

a thousand silent notes woven into fractals,
indigo snowflakes from an opium dream.

I hit the C again, the wire an old man’s vocal cord.
It is a feeble “yes” in a quiet room,

a museum where even the sunrise has been archived.
I glance at my body in the armchair

by the open window, summer breeze blowing
a white lace shroud over my face.

A heart attack, I think.
Yes.

There is a polite knock at the door.
Floorboards creak as I shuffle through the parlor.

Eternity, waiting on the porch,
has given me time enough to say goodbye.

38 comments:

Tina Trivett said...

"indigo snowflakes from an opium dream"

Love this line. Very nice write.

gautami tripathy said...

At least you got to say goodbye in the most spiritual way. By playing music.

"an orphan tone already dying.
I examine the faded oriental rug"

Lisa said...

My favorite:

"I hit the C again, the wire an old man's vocal cord.
It is a feeble "yes" in a quiet room."

Again, your imagery is incredible. You've given us multiple sensory descriptions that put me in the middle of that moment.

Janice Thomson said...

You are a master at creating imagery that puts the reader right there, William.
'a museum where even the sunrise has been archived' - powerful and haunting line. Excellent.

Billy said...

Tina, that's my favorite line as well.

Guatami--music would definitely be the way to go out! Thanks.

Lisa, thank you. I guess that's what a poem is supposed to do--suspend the reader in a particular moment.

Janice, thanks, though not much of an Easter poem LOL

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is haunting and vivid, poignant

Charles Gramlich said...

the fourth stanza, "silent notes" is a jewel.

SandyCarlson said...

I can see this, smell the dust on the books that must be in that room, and imagine the curtains fluttering. Bravo, Billy!

paisley said...

what an absolute romance this is with death... and who is to say it will be anything but... i am not afraid... i look forward with great anticipation to find what awaits me....

oh i loved this!!!!

Raven said...

Another lovely poem. Such a clearly drawn scene. I love the summer breeze blowing a lace shroud and the last two lines. But then I pretty much like them all. Nice to have a friendly relationship with death, especially as it comes inevitably closer. Now I can think of "It" as a kindly presence waiting on the porch giving me time to say goodbye.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

This is beautiful!! I love it!

ChristineEldin said...

a museum where even the sunrise has been archived.
That's also my favorite line.

Every line is stunning. This is one of my favorites. Have I said that before? Well, I mean really, this poem is one of my favorites. Again.

The first line pulls you in, sets the tone. And keeps going.
Lovely.

SnoopMurph said...

What an amazing poem. For me, I could actually hear the "C" being played, like my grandmother's old piano in warbling tone.

Gorgeous writing.

I definitely will link your site on my blog.

Jo said...

My favourite line is actually 'I hit the C again, the wire an old man's vocal cord'. But hey, they're all good lines. It also moves very well.

cargwaps said...

i read this while sounding out a C minor on my keyboard. :) 'twas beautiful billy. thanks for the images. ^__^

Billy said...

Thank you, Juliet. I tried to create a very quiet atmosphere.

Thanks, Charles. Always glad to have you stop by!

Sandy, you're right! There are books in the room. I was thinking about the Harry Truman house in Missouri as a model. Just a mid-American sitting room with no frills.

paisley, I believe in NDE reports and believe that death is peaceful and loving.

Raven, thank you. As I told paisley, I believe in NDEs. Everyone is fulfilling some kind of mission, and death is merely going home.

Christine, you can keep saying it's your favorite each time. I certainly won't mind :) Thanks.

Linda, you and I heard the same note. I was thinking of a painao wire that hadn't been hit in a very long time, a piano that was almost certainly out of tune. Thanks!

Jo, our voices all drop as we grow old, so I thought of the wire as a human vocal cord. Glad you liked it. Thanks!

cargwaps, you're most welcome!

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

You have a great gift for recreating the sounds in particular.

Casdok said...

Yes you certainly do have a gift.
Ive just bought your book btw!

SandyCarlson said...

Just checking in on the conversation, Billy!

Thanks for stopping by. God bless.

Scott from Oregon said...

I'm not a music guy, but isn't C minor a chord? If it is, that would make your finger very talented...

I could be way wrong though. It has happened before.

Other than that one perplexing thought, way cool. Very nice. Lovely. Lots of accolades, mostly already shared by others.

And a bravo or two...

TomCat said...

Very nicely done, Billy. It brings a sense of my own mortality.

Billy said...

Julie, you're right--this was a very auditory poem in many respects.

Casdok, many say I have a gift for insanity LOL, but thank you. (And I hope you enjoy the book. Most of the email I've received about it has been positive.)

Sandy, welcome back. The chardonnay is on the counter -:) Everyone seems to be having a good time!

Scott, you're probably right. I thought there was a minor scale on the old piany. I should check.

Thanks, Tomcat. Much appreciated.

Billy said...

Well, Scott was correct. The black keys are flats and sharps, not minors. Oops :)

Lane said...

So many soft images in this poem and I always enjoy how you mix lyrical with stark fact (8th cuplet:-)

My favourite phrase is even the sunrise has been archived. This totaly illuminates leaving a life with no loose ends and meeting 'polite' eternity.

What a way to go:-)

Lana Gramlich said...

Ironically, I wrote a poem some years ago that touched on the concept of the fractal perfection of a snowflake.
Love this one, even though it makes me very sad. You DO realize it's Spring, right? ;) *LOL*

floots said...

this is amazing
i particularly liked "orphan tone"
the image has so many shades of thought and meaning
thank you

jason evans said...

The passing of an instrument, an era, and some of the essence of a person.

Billy said...

Lane, someone once wrote that we'll be able to look back and relive moments of our lives (think it was C.S. Lewis). It would be nice if moments were indeed archived.

Lana, I should indeed be doing the Snoopy dance for spring LOL.

floots, thanks for stopping by. -:)

Jason, a succinct summary. Life is full of hallmarks, but I've learned that we don't notice them at the time. The final one, however, is one that apparently gets out attention.

lluvia said...

being aware of the passing of time makes you to live those moments with intensity!!

writtenwyrdd said...

All I could think of despite the gorgeous and evocative lines was, now that's a lonely life.

Scott from Oregon said...

ummm... not to be a pain or nuthin'... but C major is another scale or chord...

It's like a C minor only more major, I've been told...

I suppose one could tap "high C" or "middle C" with a finger...

I feel like I am pooping on a diamond here, but I guess I could be compulsively trying to remove a bit of debris from its glossy surface?

Yeah.... That's sounds better, anyway.

SnoopMurph said...

Hi, I'm back to weigh in on the C major/minor quickly. (I am a music teacher and I didn't catch the wording the first read).

Major is a very bright sound, usually glorious, happy much of the time. Minor is melancholy, sadder in tone-although at a fast tempo (think the Hora) can be great fun. You need to have three notes (a chord is more than one note-usually three or more) to be able to determine major or minor tonality. It cannot be determined by one single note. A scale is eight notes in succession. The black keys (flats or sharps, depending on the key you are playing) are part of the creation of chords but don't always mean a minor key or chord. Stop me when I am too much of a music geek. If that's not clear, I'll be happy to restate it another way.

You could be more correct in the poem by simply saying "C" without saying major or minor. "C" refers to the single note...OR you could say "keys" plural instead of "key" in the first line and revert back to C minor in the second. By saying "keys", C minor could definitely work as the player would be playing more than one note to identify the tonality. I would hear this poem as minor over major, personally.

I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds, but I felt dutiful to help clear up some confusion!!

Linda

Miladysa said...

Wonderfully descriptive and touching.

Billy said...

Linda, you're not being a geek at all! I appreciate your clarifying this for me -:)

scott, thanks.

Miladysa, Thank you so much. You're obviously back :)

qualcosa di bello said...

i thoroughly enjoy the journeys i experience in reading your words. with this one i was stuck on the 'orphan tone' & the lonely haunting feeling of that, the lack of harmony. i wonder, if as we age & more of those we love pass on, does the letting go of here become easier. i sensed some of that in your words

Billy said...

qualcosa, I think you're right. As we grow older, there's more acceptance of your our mortality. So glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by!!

Cynthia said...

You made me love this room
with your words and thoughts.
Rich and homey at once.

Billy said...

Thank you so much, Cynthia. I love books and bookcases. They're like a safe tranquilizer. Om -:)