The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Anne Harding Woodworth
900 YEARS OF JAZZ
for Wayne Shorter
In the U of the sax that plays
a twelfth-century carol
I rest as if in a hammock on a holy day.
It’s a listening room and dark,
where I hear celibates sing—voices arched
against stone walls—
in Latin before the refectory meal.
I smoke a cigarette
and drink a short glass of gin,
nothing the color of blood,
just clear, with a slightly bitter tongue.
In the same room I caress a man
because music winds into body crevices
as fluently as it does into the necks of brass.
Notes dredged from a sacred close are moist
tears from a marble virgin’s eyes. Hodie.
Not to be believed by some. Believed by some
and bringing on ecstasy, hodie,
which is the side of miracle I’m on today.
Her lower jaw gobbles up the upper,
while her crooked fingers grasp
her walking stick, when on the road
we meet, Lucille and I.
When her fingers ache, she says, she plays
piano, and she plays piano even when they don't.
She used to play at moonshine parties tunes
that sounded slightly off from what gods intended.
At eighty-nine, she still slips extra beats in,
odd and cozy, augmented sixths,
fives against the fours at Rocky Hill Baptist,
where they love the way she laces hymns.
She practices piano every day
and walks the road when her knees ache
and when they don’t,
but always with the stick of oak,
calls it her baby-grand leg,
says it helps her trek beyond hymnal.
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