Monday, August 13, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 14 - The Flautist

Saturday night I attended my 25th high school reunion. That led to yearbook reminiscing, where I found this poem.

It's printed at the back of the year book along with five other poems by other student poets. For a middle class high school attended by children of working class parents, we had a thriving arts education when I went to P.A. (short form for Prince Andrew High School.) We had Drama classes, Art and Music (split into choir students and instrumental students.) We had one play and one musical per year, plus assorted choir or band concerts.

This poem was inspired by a friend of mine who took music class with the choir students even though he played the flute and was in several bands. 25 years later he sings with the basses in the Canadian Opera Chorus in Toronto.

Photo by Michael Cooper, 2001 Cavalleria rusticana

Here he is, third from left holding the basket - Michael Downie. This poem came to me one cold day when he came into the music portable (a satellite classroom on the school grounds, adjacent to the main building which was overcrowded with Generation X-ers) to stash his flute in its case first thing in the morning - first thing for me, but I knew he'd already been at school for awhile at band practice. And I knew that later on he'd have choir rehearsal with me because we were both in "Oklahoma!"

I trimmed this down a bit - all my early stuff is a bit longwinded.

The Flautist

Sagging sky
Purpled puffs
Punched in and held
By unseen threads

Tensed and grim
The chill, the wary gusts
Stir the hairs
Upon his neck
Soaked shoes
Trailing jets of rain
Sidesteps sopping
Crunchit bags
That skit sporadic
Cross the lot

Circle of uneasy light
Fluorescent beam
Retreats from
Morning's hazey glow
Rounds the corner
Dented metal sides
Versed with coin-carved words
Of youthful fun
Filmed with heavy mist
Mounting hollowed
Metal steps that shudder
With his sleepy weight

He grips the freezing handle
Jerks the blue door open
It takes a moment
He pulls his jacket off
Puts his books down
Flicks the water from his hair
Just sits

Numbed and red, his hands
Unclasp the case's lid
To lift it

The morning's bite releases

Her slender form rests languidly
Her lips as rich and sweet as fruit
She lies on crushed blue velvet sheen
Her flowing fingers long and lean
As with her hand she stretches, Queen
Of Woodwinds reaching up, his flute
To greet her servant graciously

Humbly then her servant bows
And takes her hand to kiss it soft
Reverently he watches her
He sees her rise and hears her purr
Surrenders to her strong allure
She in his arms and held aloft
He weak with all that she endows

So cool and clear the voice that sings
Dame Flute in song professes joy
To all who hear and all who feel
Such lightness, airiness - unreal
The glacier's freshness, ice-cool peal
That chills and melts the trembling boy
Who sets her down by crystal springs

This is the time for which he lives
He lies upon the deep green grass
His arms about Dame Flute, whose voice
Floats up among the leaves, the noise
Of birds stilled by her sound, their choice
To stop and listen to the lass
Is taken up by most, as more she gives

Pulses flit and dart, sweet pain fills
Him as he takes her, trembling soft
The glory of the honor she
Bestows on one such man as he
Drunk in the heat of victory
He holds Dame Flute up high, aloft
And in his mercy. Now the wills

Of both stand fused as one. He plays
Her body with the deftness of
The greatest lover, with the grace
Of the most humble servant, lace
And satin thrown without disgrace
On top of coarse wool cloth. Their love
Bared to the world, greets proud new days

Rehearsal's done
The bell has rung

He looks around

He places her back in the case
And leaves

Copyright 1982 Julia Smith


Amy Ruttan said...

I played Flute in school. Still can, but not very well. Last time I tried I scared Sumo. Whoops.

Hey you're on Facebook, so am I. I'll have to try to find you.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! lovely play with words!!!

Ann said...

Beautiful poem. Lovely imagery. I played flute in school, too...and trumpet, and baritone, and susaphone (once).

Christine d'Abo said...

Wow, Julia. Beautiful poem! I could see and hear everything you were describing. :)

Nancy said...

I am impressed. You did this in High School?

I hope you send it to him.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

How cool that he went on to be a professional musician. Amazing; it's such a hard thing to do.

As for the poem, you've got some beautiful images, especially early on. Purpled puffs, for instance -- things that we wouldn't see used today, but perhaps we should.

I also like the whole sexual overtones of the flute. Were you really this aware of sexuality when you were in high school? Wow.

gautami tripathy said...

Wonderful weaving of words.

julia said...

Nancy and Susan - this really appears in my high school yearbook. But I trimmed it down for the Poetry Train, got rid of quite a few stanzas because as a young 'un, I did tend to go on a bit. And on...

Wylie Kinson said...

I could never be a poet. The beauty they weave with so few words astounds me.
This one is particularly stunning!
And I can't believe you wrote this in high school... WOW!!! My poems from back then focus on cute boys *eyeroll*

Annie Mac said...

Julia, your teenage words are beautiful.

Lisa Andel said...

I liked the sensual imagery you painted towards the end. That, and how deeply involved with his playing.

Robin L. Rotham said...

Wow, Julia, did this bring back some memories. Not just the poem--which is gorgeous, by the way--but your opening. You and I could have gone to the same high school at the same time, though our 25th passed without comment this summer because our 20th reunion sucked beyond belief. We also had one play and one musical every year, and I was in the pit band for Oklahoma. We had one really stellar tenor who went on to become a professional musician, but he died of AIDS complications ten years ago.

julia said...

Hey Robin - maybe we were in parallel universes! Sorry to hear about your tenor friend.

Sparky Duck said...

This was cool because it made me picture all those kids at high school football games, stuck in the rain and cold wind, unlike me under an umbrella, mostly because they wanted to perform.

Anonymous said...

Their love
Bared to the world, greets proud new days


annette said...

I love reading your poems. I can picture the images vividly in my mind.

Red Garnier said...

Hey Julia!!! I loved it. How beautiful it is to remember. Memories are treasures!! =) I'm at Passions Muses on Monday while I get my own blog fixed. Whenever you can say hi! =) Miss ya! Red

Jill said...

I can picture every movement in this poem... Really greatly done!!
And Prince Edward in Darmouth??

Anne Douglas said...

Sigh, if we only loved our other the way we love the music ...

Very impressive from a teenager!

Heather Harper said...

He places her back in the case
And leaves

Nice line. Makes me miss playing, but I sold my flute years ago.

julia said...

Jill, it's Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth. The other royal brother!

charleneteglia said...

Beautiful. You make me want to pull out my flute. Thank you for a lovely and musical poem!

Toni said...

Her slender form rests languidly
Her lips as rich and sweet as fruit
She lies on crushed blue velvet sheen
Her flowing fingers long and lean
As with her hand she stretches, Queen
Of Woodwinds reaching up, his flute
To greet her servant graciously

Musical sigh. I love this part.