Standing in the chill shallow waters of the pond I begin to hear the sound of a saxophone behind me—at the shoreline. But it isn’t your usual or pleasant kind of playing. No structure, just repetition. So, instead, it’s the kind that sounds like someone trying to get you to thinking when all you want to do is feel. And, at this point? It’s killing me. I don’t mind if I’m out here and someone wants to set a mellow tone and I don’t mind if I’m in a lounge being pulled to a more pensive place—but as I’m casting out my yellow rooster tail for the fourth hour, having had little luck with the fishes and stewing in my frustration, the last thing I want is someone telling me what to think over, and over, and over, and over. So, I begin to feel upset and I begin to wonder why I let these things get to me and why I feel an urge to snap and turn to let this brass-blowing-bastard know that they need to shut the-fuck up.
But I take a deep breath
think of my own task
I take another deep breath and I think of the player’s feelings.
I close my eyes and listen; I think about what they’re doing
and what it must mean to them.
I feel my anger start to fall with every note
in the wake of my frustration
my eyes are clear and watery
I think of my inability to help anybody,
let alone myself.
I feel the pain of pangs I feel at the thought of my mother’s wounds.
I think of dreams I used to have, when I believed that dreams were everything.
And it’s there, with eyes filled, that I begin to understand where they’re trying to get me—or get themselves to.
Their playing is slow, but with each sudden honk, or dry pressing of the keys, or something that sounds like dry heaving through the end of the horn—with each note and note that follows, they’re letting me hear their thoughts in that moment.
Or maybe they’re not even thoughts, maybe they’re not even feelings, just moments of feeling, portions of sadness, anger, love, compassion clipped and sewn together as they’re rapidly drawn from a well of memories, otherwise unknown to me. Maybe their week’s been shit, too, fuck, I don’t know. I may not understand them, but isn’t it possible that not everything is meant to be completely understood, that some things are only supposed to be felt as feelings, maybe even less than feeling?
When I realize this, when I leave behind what I wanted from this world and instead come to terms with what it is—something entirely too much to know—I remember what it means to be human, to feel alone, and to decide whether you want to embrace that solitude or find others to fill the air.
My wrist is moving, I feel the water ‘round my knees.
I’ve had my eyes closed, but really they’re quite open.
I’ve had my heart closed, but really it’s quite open.
I’ve had my eyes closed as I keep casting and reeling, casting and reeling,
aiming for a fish I don’t quite know is there or not.
And then I feel a nibble,
then I slow my hand down a sec, then I speed up,
and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and jiggle, and repeat,
and repeat, and flick, and repeat, and repeat, and slow and repeat, then I feel the bite, then I pull, then I hold the rod up, set my drag, begin the steady turning of my hand, and the sax—the sax starts shrieking, and it hollers louder as a fat trout flies up from the flat topped water and slaps BIG, back down into the stillness, where only the keen-eyed would see the small ripples ‘round my line. With flattened barbs, I have to chase this fish.
The sax starts whining high.
It starts letting out cries and I can feel them in the
curve of my spine as my rod bends to the whim
of the fish at the end of the line—as I pull, and
churn and pull until my arms burn, with brown
fingers white and pink and
PAH!. . .
this time, the line snaps, this time I lose yet another lure—
and this time I turn and look at the sax player
to give them a subtle smile or a thumbs up in recognition
of the moment we just shared together.
And it’s when I turn that I catch them as they squat slightly—
wings cast wide—as they do a little jump and fly off.
And I realize, then, how much a Great Blue Heron can sound
like a sax, and how big of feelings a bird can draw out of a tired
embittered fool like me.
I begin to feel my body rise
and I can believe
in what freedom must feel like
and the release it would provide.