When You Hear Music*
Some say that the earth will end in fire, swallowed
In heat, a waiting inferno gestating inside, and if
It’s true, we’ve had lots of close calls- summers
When our sun remained unseen through volcanic ash,
Summers of golden states blanketed entirely in flame,
Summers when split atoms crushed whole cities
To dust, and summers when I listened to your body breathe,
Struggle to stay. My father created tapes to take your mind
Off pain, to another time, maybe the summer you described
The science of flight while sketching on a WWII aircraft manual.
Your music is gone in the air, but your drawing remains,
For now, tucked into a bookshelf in a room that sometimes
Holds the scent of burnt matches.
Everything ends in smoke, reaching for weightlessness.
We are all Icarus, reduced to infinite particulates
Carried by the air we breathe; I carry you in my lungs
As I move around this temporary space, these rooms.
Marks made with your teeth, lips, salivating mouth
Still scar the many wood pipes that smoked you,
Artifacts of a failing red heart that cling to the past.
The closet air rich with the scent of wet ash, your soured
Flesh, atomically entangled, is buried beneath
The weight of time and music and all. I want
To see your handwriting, to have another lesson
On flight. I want to hear your voice.
Explain it again.
Lift and drag, lift and drag. We are the shape of wings
To come. The world is below us, burning.
We are flying above it. Now, we are weather,
No longer tethered.
Now, we are free.
* “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.” – Eric Dolphy, Last Date (1964)
This poem originally appeared here, in slightly different form.
Jason Dean Arnold’s entire career has been devoted to the importance of education, from teaching in the K-12 setting to designing and teaching online courses for post secondary. He currently serves as the director for E-Learning, Technology, and Communications at the University of Florida’s College of Education. Jason has no ability to compartmentalize. As a result, his writing, visual artwork, and music (and other creative output) are all extensions of his love for learning. Twitter- @jasonarnold74