Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking in the Windows

Something has inspired me to return to a part of myself that I had shut out after a stroke more than ten years ago, feeling that I had closed the book on that part of my life. In meeting some friends and starting to share something of that remote time, I tentatively have tried to rebuild some vacant parts of myself.

It was rather like looking into windows of the past, except that most were covered and obscure. I wasn't sure what was there. It was a weird experience. I pulled out some scores and tried to read through them... it was very painful to look at music I once knew by heart, and now had to learn from scratch all over again... and not too well at that. My fingers had no memory. However, slowly I started to play a few songs, very haltingly with lots of errors. Frustrating! Then I lapsed into improvising, something that was once spontaneous, but now was halting and insecure.

The improvising started to flow and I felt something kindled and ignited. As I left my space and went out into the city, I found myself improvising a rhythm in my head...some lyrics...Walking by the windows of restaurants and coffee houses, I looked into the windows hoping to see someone I recognised. I have been thinking about composing a new theatre piece, and suddenly looking in the windows became an extended metaphor and a text emerged:

Looking in the window…
Looking for you there
Looking at the people
You're not anywhere.

Looking in the window
Looking for your face
Looking at the strangers
You're not any place…

Looking through the window
Trying hard to see...
Looking at the people
Looking back at me.

Through the glass, I see them
Laughing as they talk…
Wish that I could be them
Instead I have to walk
Searching in the windows
Looking for your smile...
All those endless windows
Detain me for a while...

Maybe you are somewhere
Waiting for my eyes
Sitting with the strangers
In your best disguise.

Looking in the window
Hoping I will find
You inside with people,
Smiling in your mind,
As though we shared a secret...
Knowing I must see
You, inside with people...
That's how it has to be,
Me, outside the window
No where else to go...
What at last I've found
You might never know...

Defeated by the window,
Touching through the pane,
Meeting you as always
In a far domain...
Parted by the window,
By the fate of Time's debris,
The magic of your presence
Somehow has set me free.


Tom said...

John, Such a lovely poem. But then it is much more than a poem. It is an event, a love story, an opera...So nice to have unexpectedly seen you a few times this week, from the other side of the window. The window is that ever changing medium between us as humans, artists, citizens, and searchers. Happy, New Year!

Marissa said...

Perhaps one poem deserves another, in turn. We do not write our own, but quote Yeats. For some reason or another, Yeats's words seem a fitting response to your own verse:

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Happy New Year!
David and Marissa