My Friend Rachel is SO Much More Talented Than I Could Hope To Be (or, two little poems set to music)

I received an amazing surprise from my dear friend Rachel Fogarty this weekend — she’s secretly been setting some of my poetry to music for a composition competition in San Francisco.  She and Kevin (earmuff pioneer, lover of tom grooves, equally amazing musician) showed up at our Christmas Open House this weekend with a release form and an embarrassed smile as she asked me to sign it — like I wasn’t going to be completely flattered that she had even THOUGHT of doing something like this.

Rachel’s graduate recital a few years ago was revelatory — having never heard her compositions before, I was totally floored at her talent and surprised that I hadn’t realized it sooner. It’s an honor that she’d even want to use my old dusty poems for her work.

Words and links to MP3 below.

*********************************************************************

Coil

One shoulder takes the weight
while the other rests in waiting
for the slow steady shift.

As midnight settles, a rusty halo
emerges around the Nashville skyline,
and the hour exchanges regret
for numb awareness and silver stillness.
There is the sound of the airport sleeping,
of Interstate 24 slowing its shuttle,
the dim arterial hum of a city in relief.

And there is the clock, aching to reset –
a muted shift of method from gear to rod,
pin to pendulum, pulpit to hand,
and again to a series of gears,
where the key is not and never was.
It divides by twelves and by sixty,
and rations to each arm
an emotion of precise mathematics –
driven, by design, to find an ending
and at once another stark beginning.

One shoulder shifts the weight to the other.
The coil builds tension, and aches for release.

*********************************************************************

Only Memory of a Family Vacation, Age Nine

A bright Georgia summer
and there’s heat rising off the asphalt
ahead, slurring the horizon
like oil in standing water,
the sprawling pitch pines
blurred together into dusty green
like their crooked limbs
have grown tangled together.
My father drives, keeps the window
cracked a half inch and the radio
hardly audible under the whitened rush,
the sound of motion.
My mother hums to herself,
holds a book about the apostle Paul
in her lap, knows that to read it
will make her carsick, but still holds it,
trusting in intention.
And I am in the backseat
of that silver station wagon,
seatbelt unbuckled, shoelaces untied,
again considering her Sunday School lesson
on how God was never born
and will never die –
and under the heat and the motion
and the weight of infinity,
I rest my head
against the window
in fear of disbelief.

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