Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Elgar: Second Movement (Flight of the Hummingbird)

Part 1 is here

She had noted his backwards flight.

And softens her forward thrust.

Her mind disengages as the bow arm flirts and hovers like the wing of a hummingbird. The membranes of her muscle pulse across this movement’s petals and thorns, while not far below, darkness jaws. She relishes this suppleness from herself, and others. Athleticism rouses her from a digital bolero of play, and repeat.

Her heart is a pump.

Her heart. Is a pump.

Her heart—

She ran from the cottage until she reached the water’s edge, his baton a white flame in her fist. The afternoon heat marinated the cut grass, while the lake drank deep from the sun’s nectar. Spring is the season of miracles, someone had once told her. But all she believed in was the mud sucking at her toes, the cool breeze impaling her breast, before she thrashed away.

Positioning the baton between her teeth, she turned to confront him.

“Did you call her, Catherine?”

His color was high, his voice a broken string.

“Did you tell my wife about us?”

She spat out his stick in her hand.

“I did.”

He seized her by the shoulders, and shook. For a brief, ecstatic moment, she coveted his fury. Aiming the baton at his heart, she started to lunge.

But flesh is so fond of surrendering, even during a blood charge.

Her legs collapsed, and he sank into her like a man falling on his sword. She watched the baton sail from her hand, and find its measure of rest. She rested, too.

And the dandelions sloughed their seeds as two bodies swam up one another in a current of silence.

And the scent of lilac chloroformed the air.

And a bird dropped to earth, in search of sticks for a nest.

But she was deaf to earth and sense and time.

When her eyes opened, there were tears on her cheeks, though her own eyes were dry. The war drum in her chest reminded her, with its imperfect beat, that only death survives such sweet, terrible silence.

And so the woman who did not believe in miracles pushed her lover away. Cruel enough for him to remember his wife again. So far that his tears might swamp a lake.

She stood to track a bird with a baton in its beak.

Straining for it to conduct her in birdsong.

Her heart is a pump.

Her heart is a pump.

And so, she thinks, as the hummingbird finally falls dead, this fluid staining my cheeks must be blood-red.

To be continued...

[Cello: Jacqueline du Pré; Conductor and husband: Daniel Barenboim; video courtesy of markvogue]


Anonymous said...

The poetry in this is huge. The motion, the impressionist vision. It's almost like the essense of atoms revealed by the secret touch of electricity.

I may have trouble grounding the experience in a real world moment, but the artistry doesn't require it.

Anonymous said...

Of course, that would be *essence* with a "c." I'd better drink more coffee.

Aine said...

I agree with Jason. This is beautiful in it's artistry. I could feel her heart throbbing as she recalls the scene. Delicious drama! And the extra layer of the fact that this is all happening in her mind while she is playing music makes the emotions even more complex. Bravo!

Sarah Hina said...

This piece went through several incarnations. I struggled to capture the fragmented thinking of someone who was in the midst of playing, but eventually abandoned realism in favor of flashpoint memory, hoping it would compliment her elevated state.

I'm glad it worked for you, Jason.

Thanks, Aine. :) Of course, I'm still not satisfied with it. I was so desperate to get it up yesterday after all my frustrations with it that I probably posted it before it was quite ready.

Will not tweak...will not tweak...will not...


Stephen Parrish said...

Don't forget: anniversary tribute to Miss Snark on Pat Wood's Blog starting May 20th.

ChrisEldin said...

I love this, Sarah.
I think I'm beginning to understand the many levels of your poetry. I will call you *teacher*

I love the baton in her teeth. So primal and edgy.

I love the pace and cadence.
My favorite line: But flesh is so fond of surrendering, even during a blood charge.

You pull us in so close to the character. It's masterful.

Ello said...

Wow, it took me a double reading to understand. And I think there are so many levels that I cannot fully comprehend it all. But I get the primal fury and the emotional physicality of it all. It is as always beautiful to read your prose.

Sarah Hina said...

One of these days, I'm going to flush myself of metaphors, go light on the lyricism, and just describe what the hell is going on in a scene.

But not just yet... ;)

Chris, if I'm "teacher," then I weep for the students. But thank you, my friend! Your enthusiasm always bolsters me. Really. :)

Ello, sometimes that lilac's perfume can become too strong. Likewise, I kind of wondered whether I might have suffocated my readers a bit here. But I'm glad that the emotion still rang true for you! :)

Vesper said...

Beautiful, each sentence bursting with an overwhelming poetry.

sexy said...