I wrote you a poem because
I don’t believe in spells or prayers;
it was all I had.
from Twelve Simple Songs by Dave Bonta
The embryo of song, a single note. The ancestor of narrative, a single voice, first, against the smokey incensed dark. The ceiling has beams they are like ribs, this church is a body and the lights are dying low. I am dying low. In song words unfurl and with them meaning unspools like a dropped bobbin, rolling away to echo ping against the floor. And still the single voice holds tenuous but holds. Flicker. Shadows: tenebrae. This is love. This is not love. A single note is no longer held but falls. Before it resurrects into silence another voice catches, carries on. This is love. Still no resolution. Sound preceedes words, a lengthening spine of vowels and knobby consonants, a body that is all blood and muscle and no joints. Words do not coagulate into meaning. Hemophiliac love. Blessed are the poor in spirit. There is a draft from the door. The flames flicker but do not go out. Now the voices swell full. The Laozi said what is empty is full, emptiness is fullness. Barren. I am poor as an abyss, poor as the cracked land, brittle as the first skin of ice on the water, fragile as ash. Vowels and consonants don’t spell the words but they carry us over the long dark between the vault and the pricks of votive light. Was that a prayer? This is love.