Friday, November 7, 2014

Poetry Friday: Small Packages

It's Poetry Friday, and I want to offer up a song. The link to it was posted on Facebook by my friend Daphne Kalmar. The fact that I don't know what the words of the song mean - don't even know the alphabet in which the words of this song are written - makes me hesitate, but it's not really the meaning I'm attracted to. It's the smile on the singer's face. I can hardly describe how much I love the delight this woman feels as she sings her song.

(If the embedded video won't play, just click this link.)

Look at the way that woman's body moves - her arms, her hands, the way she makes that little "crazy" sign up by her head! Maybe she remembers something while she sings her song. Is it all joy, what she remembers? Maybe there's a little sorrow? I might be imagining it. For all I know, the song could be about a lost hat. But no, you can see it from time to time, the wrinkled brow, the catch in the voice, right?

What is she saying? Do I want to know? I imagine the woman is Russian, I imagine a long history of suffering, life under Stalin, Russian soldiers during the winter of 1942-43. But I have a huge imagination when it comes to sorrow.

While in Oaxaca this September, my husband and I walked past a thin young boy every day who played the accordion and hoped for spare change. He sometimes had an even younger sister with him, in charge of holding out her hand. We gave them whatever coins we had, sometimes more, on the way out from our apartment in the morning and on the way back in the late afternoon. He was always there. He couldn't play well; in fact, he didn't really play a tune, just a note here, a note there, while the accordion itself - pulled out, pushed in - did the job of wheezing and begging. Now I'm home in Seattle in my comfy house, but there's no doubt the boy is still there each day, his back up against the stone wall surrounding the Santo Domingo church. His song and the poverty and heartbreak it represents are there, but also here now, with me.

The woman in the video - her pleasure is as much a poem as the lyrics of her song, isn't it? The boy and his sister in Oaxaca - small as sighs - those sighs are poems. And when it comes right down to it, who can say what a poem is or how it comes to us?  I look at the woman while she sings - her hand slapping the table is a poem, her smile is a poem. And the melody drifting out into the Oaxaca air - I could hear the music before I could see the boy - that was a poem.   Delight, joy, suffering, songs, musical notes floating in the air, a teacup on a table, Mickey Mouse on a Russian apron, a hand held out for spare change - all poems. Sometimes they come in small packages.
This week's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Diane over at Random Noodling. Head over there to see what other people have posted.