Since I’m ready to submit my novel to literary agents, I figured it was time to update my website. I didn’t realize until I started that it hadn’t been updated in four years. You read that right. Four years.
One page includes links to individual poems, articles, and other items I’ve written over the years. As part of the update, I made sure the links still worked.
Some I re-read to see if they were still any good. One in particular actually brought me to tears, both because of its profundity, and because I couldn’t help but marvel that little-‘ole-me wrote it. Yep. It’s that good.
It doesn’t really fit into a particular category. It’s not a poem or short story, but more of an exercise in the senses.
It’s short, so instead of linking it, here it is in entirety. I hope you enjoy it:
On The Wings of Smoky Air
Playing my second set on the black grand piano, I begin to wonder if anyone hears. Behind the perfectly tuned notes being carried off on the wings of smoky air throughout the lounge, the murmur of quiet conversations and the clinking of glasses reach past the music to echo in my ears.
I block out the noise and let each note embrace and resonate within me. My fingers, so familiar with the tune, skip across the ivory. The cool unblemished keys warm to my touch. I breathe deep, filling my lungs with air rife with stale cigarette and cigar smoke. But I hardly take notice. I reach the crescendo and the last note fades away, leaving me once again exposed to the present.
With a sigh, I reach up to stretch my stiff white collar to alleviate the chafing. I grab my wineglass, emptying it with a large gulp. The deep red wine, while initially sweet, carried a sharp and bitter aftertaste. Every taste bud on my tongue stiffens and tries to retreat in protest. With a grimace, I set the glass back down, wondering what I should play next.
Then I see her.
In the middle of the dimly lit room, an old woman nurses a glass of white wine. Her wrinkled face speaks of untold hardships and sorrow. The candle on the small, round mahogany table only deepens the creases in her wizened face. A single tear eases down her cheek. The candle’s flame glints in the drop, making it appear like a smooth, polished gold nugget.
My gaze inches up the trail left by her tear until it locks with her clear blue eyes alight with a half forgotten memory of joy.
I smile, remembering what my teacher told me long ago, “If the adulation of the crowds fade or never appear, try instead to bring joy to one person at a time with your gift.”
I remove the yellowed and brittle sheet music off the stand to replace it with another. I nod to the lady and begin to play for her and for her alone.
My teacher was right. Bringing joy to one is enough.