(354)The Unspoken

42nd bday
My 42nd birthday, the last I would share with my father. I bought my first guitar about a month later.

Every Sunday I look forward to checking out the poem that is printed in the New York Times Magazine, because it often prompts a poem of my own.  I’ve gone several weeks now without being inspired, but then today I read a poem by Geffrey Davis called “What I Mean When I Say Chinook Salmon” (read it here) and I immediately wrote this poem:

What I Mean When I Say I Love Music

My father held the unspoken version

of how to be a musician. This is how we practice.

This is how we improvise when it’s our turn. He would

stand and play the solo and everyone would applaud.

We knew that sound already, having heard it after dinner,

over and over coming from his bedroom, his practice spot,

 

a memory of melodies, the tenor of the tenor saxophone,

as it revisits me at times, like at the end of Diana Krall’s version

of “Why Should I Care,” or at a Hall and Oates concert when the

sax player steps forward. I absorbed from my father the knowing

that to be a musician is to have music in your heart, it is collaboration

and occasional solos, it is standing on the shoulders of those who

came before and taught you all you need to know, and mostly

 

about not being distracted or displaced, but to know that the

only place the music truly resides is in you.

 

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