The Rhythm of Waiting

That light of dawn began to rise above the lower buildings and sift through the slits between. Parallel alleyways became stick-figured spirits allowing that light to trace their spines slowly. And then the light slammed into the street with a suddenness that for some, some who had been immersed in straight-ahead jazz all night in that somewhere club, was too much and too soon. They stepped aside, looked askance, dreamed into distance, while the pedestrian busy people went to and fro, repeating without rinsing, day after day into their always.

Then the light reached a kind of steady balance that was nice enough, kind enough to compose shadows and shade. The lovers of Music, those with a high regard, came back from their steps aside and imperceptibly filtered away too. They all had their own beats and keys to their own melodies, and anyway that club is always there.

He was thinking about this as he backed into a corner of kindness and watched the change that light brings to a city. He had no hurry, really, through the mirage of time with its signature statement, its measured mark upon the lines of lanes and the stanzas of avenues. He lived by the rhythm of the street, day and night. And if it was a steady four, that was okay for only a short time; it would go to a six divided into triplets or three pairs soon enough. And a five, better a seven, could be hit many ways, as he walked one way with a sauntering step. He smiled as he moved, and went into a few bars of 11/16, easily shifting with a slight sway into his own groove.

His keys were out of his pocket now, some of major and some of minor importance, and he held them all on a split ring. He liked the feel of a thing in his hand that only truly connected to one other thing, like this key to this lock, he was thinking, and he could hear and sense through his finger tips the faintest sensation of friction as the channels and ridges and cuts of the key slowly turned the tumblers of this one lock on this one door. Click. But down an octave, he thought, more like click, but musical not mechanical, as he entered his place.

To him, it smelled alive with a faint mustiness. Not death and decay, but something, anything, living and breathing with its own rhythm of respiration. It was comforting, that smell, but it did make him dream into the distance too. And comfort was needed and welcome but not a constant want. A quarter rest here and there, an eighth even–but too much, he knew, could slow a march, a retard into retreat. And rest would then become requiem. He drummed to the wild polythyms of the unknown and always would.

So, he hung up his wool coat, stomped his boots on the mat, and took a single step, just to hear the creak of that one spot, that one tone of one board of the hardwood floor. Nice.

And some coffee would be nice too, he was thinking. Feeling it actually, after a night at the club. He didn’t drink much; it was the music that moved him and made him feel. And it had really been a scene, one for the books he thought, especially when the four old guys had come in. It had been at once exhausting and exhilarating, a perfect repast for reflection. He thought about it all as the beans were ground and the water came to a boil. When the steeping was done and the press was plunged, the dark mystery of another hemisphere was poured into that one perfect cup.

And then he sat. And the window called him like it does, and he sighed a sing-song sound as he watched, thinking. He’d go into the deeper registers for awhile . . .

The light outside would soon reach that one window on one wall, and then, through that window the light would land on a tarnished door. It would fall at a slant just in such a way that it would become a circle of light, a spotlight on a stage. The focus would reveal all the tarnishing of that door. And as the earth moved, that circle would slowly illuminate the handle. When that happened, he would ascend a sacred scale and begin to write.

He would write it all, everything anything never nothing. True always, lyrical and lilting in phrases. But always true, and always from his Music. He could hear it from a cloud, he could see it on a single shaft of sunlight carried by dust. And it was in the air he breathed. It was his serenade, and he would keep writing until he got the signature he wanted and had divided all the measures he could. And when he was done, the rhythm of waiting would slow. And he’d walk back out, now into the twilight, silently singing a fine tune. And he would return to that other door, closed.

But now in perfect time he taps out a consecrated cadence of prayer: that the key has been left in the lock. And he smiles a Mona Lisa. Then a creeping Cheshire. And then . . . he laughs all the way, each step of the way as he sees the open door. And he takes the last step.

Into the Music . . .