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Thursday, April 15, 2010

A GHOST VOICE

cat on a log


I walk slumped forward with head down on the way to the car. I feel the way I walk and it's like you see in newsreels of people down and out as far as down and out gets. Cannot hold the head up, living in the mind so deeply that visuals are shut out. Just look at the ground where you're walking. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking like old Chinese people I see in movies, walking in what looks like a kind of short-paced shuffle compared to our American long-gait way of walking. That's how I feel I walk now. Head down, shuffling along, uninterested in anything outside my head, my head dwelling in what I want that I can't have, like my closest friend back.


The netflix film for the day was Shine A Light, the Scorcese film of a Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theater in NY, 2008. With Tapo on my lap, it carried me out of my mind. I've loved the Stones since the first song I heard by them, Time Is On My Side. It had the same affect on me as the first time I heard James Brown's, Try Me, and Slim Harpo's King Bee. I lost touch with the Stones' new music over the last 30 years or so, since about the time of Some Girls. Most of the songs they played were familiar. My musical interests changed. When punk started in 75, it took my attention away from what they now call classic rock, which they didn't even play it on the radio in its day. But every time I hear something by the Stones, I listen with satisfaction.


It was the distraction I needed. I was constantly fascinated by what an abstract guitarist Keith Richard has become. He seemed to me to be doing something with his guitar like Monk did with a piano, looking for the chords and notes to play around the melody in a way that carries the melody by suggestion. I was thinking of Mick Jones of the Clash andTom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, how they took guitar playing to total abstraction. No melody, just sounds that can be made with electric guitar strings never heard before. Morello is more like a gymnast with a guitar than a picker. Richard is a picker. He and Ron Wood have played together so many years they've become one. The whole band. They work together perfectly from 50 years experience. Early on in the show, Keith Richard stepped up to the mic after a song. He said to the audience, "It's great to see everybody. It's great to see anybody." He's not much to look at, but his pickin makes up for it.


One moment in it I'll never forget. The Stones had Buddy Guy, blues singer and guitar picker, for a guest on one song. Guy and Richard played in and out of each other, Ron Wood in there jamming with them, Jagger wailing blues harp. They came into an incredible, very intimate jam of master guitarists / master musicians, nobody outdoing anybody, because they're all the best, and they took it all the way. The song over, Keith Richard took his guitar off and handed it to Buddy Guy saying, "It's yours," and Buddy walked off stage with it, meaning, I imagine, Richard gave it to him in memory of the jam. I'd guess from the looks of the guitar that it once belonged to somebody they both respect. Ron Wood looked at the guitar in Buddy's hand, recognizing it with a look of approval that said something like, Keith would do that. Charlie Watts, the drummer, looked on in visible approval too. Every one of the musicians fell into a zone during their jam only musicians know about and they sailed. It had the energy of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie together. I'll watch that jam again before it goes to the mailbox in the morning. It was a jam I believe every musician would appreciate, even ones that don't like rock or blues. It transcended genre and became universal.


You know what I know that I'm avoiding going into missing TarBaby like I did the day after Jr's funeral, went off completely away from it to give it a rest. After the BROC meeting yesterday, I was talking with Gary Joines in the parking lot before we went to the cars. I said at one point, I have so many people I love on the other side it makes me anxious to go over there. He said in his Gary Joines straight face when he has something to say that's not in fun, "Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?" I had never seen it like that. It fell into the drawer in my head of sayings I'll never forget. I saw what I already knew about Gary, that it has to be way high up there before it's over his head. He plays fiddle and bass in the band at the Jubilee.


I just now heard a faint "Mao," and ran to open the door, turned on the light and no one was there. I tell myself it was my own breathing. Today I was out in the meadow behind the house looking through the row of rhododendron along the fence, a place I didn't look yesterday. Twice out in the meadow I heard a faint Mao come from the direction of the house. I go look under the house and call his name, including El Gato, and nothing came back. I find myself looking for him all day. When I'm not searching with my eyes I'm searching in my mind. I want to allow for hope and don't dare.


Talked with a few people I know today and they told me their similar experiences, losing cats and small dogs to coyotes and neighbor dogs close to the house, and their grief. Every one of them recommended I cry as much as I feel like. It was comforting because I saw that these are just 4 people I talked with. It probably includes almost everybody else. I wasn't singled out. In this case, I don't think it's so much that misery loves company as misery loving understanding. The Regular Baptists showed me a man crying is nothing to be ashamed of or even think about. I've seen every one of the preachers cry openly at the pulpit as if they were at home--they were at home. During foot washings everyone cries. It's what we do in sorrow and joy when it's past containing.
I feel like the tears in grief are attempts to hang on to the beloved. I believe that's what I do. This morning I woke feeling good and then felt guilty for feeling good. I think that's when I got it that I'm using the sorrow of the grief to hold on to an illusory tether, pulling him back before he goes completely out of sight. It was the shock that knocked me down. It challenged everything I believed I understood about death and dying. It showed me my mind might think it gets it, but my heart does not. I've become so tender hearted in my old age I'm like a child too young to be taught that it's not ok to feel what I feel. I don't mind. I like it.
















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