A Tune Half Remembered

 

Parts of a Tune

W.S. Merwin,  1927-2019, American 

from The Shadow of Sirius, Copper Canyon Press, 2009

 

 

 

One old man keeps humming the same few notes

of some song he thought he had forgotten

 

 

The Park Bench, 1946, oil on canvas.  Horace Pippin, 1888-1946, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum

 

back in the days when as he knows there was

no word for life in the language

and if they wanted to say eyes or heart

they would hold up a leaf and he remembers

the big tree where it rose from the dry ground

and the way the birds carried water in their voices

they were all the color of their fear of the dark

and as he sits there humming he remembers

 

 

 

Benched, 1998, oil on canvas.  Robert Huckestein, American born 1946.  Pennsylvania State Museum, Harrisburg

 

 

some of the words they come back to him now

 

 

Sidney Bechet’s (1897-1959) instrumental, Petite Fleur, 1952. 

A favourite song of my mother, the tune also has lyrics which come in fragments to me with the memory of her love for us

 

 

he smiles hearing them come and go

 

 

 

 

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