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  • Libby Copa

As With Jazz

As with Jazz

by Libby Copa

He sits on the edge of his bed letting his eyes adjust to the darkness and he remembers his father teaching him about jazz, him putting on a record, him saying, hear this? In the dark he lights a cigarette. His woman beside him reaches out and touches his back, perhaps still in sleep. He thinks on those long horn notes of two players, where one breath begins to play and then holds, and the second breath comes in unnoticed overlapping the first. Where they stay together in that one moment equal and steady. Only if watching do you see there are two musicians, do you see the first drop his shoulders and lower his instrument. The whole time the line staying exactly the same.

Their apartment is filled with a strange collection of things. A new piece of furniture has made its way into their home. He had not noticed it last night and now stumbles on it as he dresses to go out. She keeps finding items beside people’s trashcans on the side of the street and brings them home for him to upholster. She asks him to save them, these objects others threw away. How can he say no to her, to her treasure that mends with his touch. She rolls herself up into all the blankets. She covers her head with them preparing for the hall light that will come in when he exits their place. He knows she will wash the sheets as soon as she wakes. She is constantly washing their sheets, as if it will make her pure and virtuous. She isn’t that kind of girl and she knows it. And that it’s okay with him, that is something she doesn’t know.

He feels for his case in the dark. He kneels down and unlatches the clasps on the side and lifts the lid. He runs his hand over the familiar metal. He knows all the places he will put his fingers, and the ones he has yet to realize, those will be the most thrilling to discover. He closes the case and sets it on top of the table with her books and writings. As he puts on his coat he looks at the shape hidden in the bed. He thinks that maybe he will crawl back in beside her and rub her shoulders for a while until she will wake and he can watch her get ready to go to her job across the city. She is a translator and he loves so much when she speaks in other languages when they make love. A woman, he knows, as with jazz, had to be left to dream some without him. As he goes out the door he whispers a sweet nothing to her.

Over night a thin layer of snow fell and now slicks the ground. He compares his steps to the wire brush setting the arc and two count. This early, there are few people around as he walks the Charles where the band will play. The sun is just rising and sets fire to the backs of the sculpted saints. The 7th chord is religion and the solo a hymn, and he has grown to be shaped by this faith. Owning to how it hadn’t turned as expected, but knowing he rather be unemployed, an artist and crazy about his woman than anything else in the whole world. As he walks across the bridge at this moment, it’s like when he knows a song is coming to its end. But with jazz there is often a new beginning into a whole new song at the tip of the last. A new morning, as with jazz, as with sound.


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