10 May 2009

Communication, Procrastination, Mountains, and Music

This morning in my inevitable procrastination (because it is time to grade exams), I dragged my heels by cruising my favorite blogs and I stumbled a selection of Laura Nyro music I hadn't heard in ages. It was on Paul Lisicky's blog--something I was drawn to in the search for information about Craig Arnold, a University of Wyoming poet who was declared missing and presumed dead in Japan last Friday.

Lisicky has a copy of Arnold's Bird-Understander there on his blog. A poem that is one half of a conversation between friends. On the surface the poem is about a bird trapped in an airport terminal. Underneath, it speaks to fear and loss, and ultimately to the value one friend sees in another--a value beyond the separation, the distance between the two people. The bird is alone, like the man in the terminal who fears for it. But just as the man is there for the bird, understanding its fear, so is the poet there for the man, understanding him perhaps better than he understands himself. Someone to talk to. Someone with whom to share the beautiful poignant moments that life hands us.

Then, although I doubt that Lisicky meant them to be connected, when I scrolled further down below the post about Arnold, I came on some music by Laura Nyro. I was touched by the corollary commentary in Nyro's lyrics that seemed to fit right into the both the morning and the moment.

The song which particularly caught my attention was "Mr. Blue":

In that ineffably honey-sweet voice of hers, Nyro sings:

This is the song of communications
Sending out peace vibrations,
Genuine cause to end our wars.
Or is this the song of complications?
A hopeless declaration?
Can we mend, transcend
The broken dishes of our love?
Our conflicts?
Can we be friends?

And I am reminded of all the things, the broken dishes, that need tending to in my own life. My mother, who I have been avoiding calling even though it is Mother's Day. My children who are so far away (Arizona, Maryland, Australia!) and so busy in their lives that we don't talk enough. The friend I parted from over hard words. All the wars everywhere that might not have happened had we talked more. Listened harder.

So Nyro and Arnold. An unexpected serendipitous conjunction. Like a street corner where a couple of old friends might bump into each other and say: "Ah. There you are. How have you been?"

So many things to think about. Time. There is never enough of it. Life. It is way too short. And who knows what mountains loom before any of us?

Communication. Caring. The understanding that, although sometimes we cannot fathom why bad things happen--why birds get trapped in high ceilings, why poets fall off mountains, why friends and lovers and families drift apart--there is always someone listening, watching, wanting to be there for us.

I think I will call my mother, and my children. And I think I will send this blog post to my friend. To all the friends I with whom I have lost touch.

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