in the thick legs of nights like these where i can hear the echoes upstairs beginning to get ready to go out, i wonder what space remains to be discovered? there are the usual stars that hang like the feet of dead men, the small caverns of the sea somewhere in someplace wet from the fingering unknown, a neighbour’s next door bedroom. there are full books i haven’t opened because there is never the time. there is time itself that has not been investigated either. there is my ego, my sadness, the fear that has me think how nice it would be to survive, to live, to remain in peace and still against the undulating universe that stretches because that is all it knows how to do.
often, i do not. i get tired. stiff. i know how to stop. but some moments, perhaps now as someone in the ceiling reminds the other of a coat, i feel all of this world growing inside me. cynicism fades. i do not consider myself. and there in each swoosh are the winds, the fields afar. i see politics that divides, that thinks tiny, that dies tinier. big buildings become music. a dog tells me what it meant to fight in vietnam.
lives do not seem so disparate or different when this world unfurls. instead, each person resonates with abundance. their lives are complex, purposeful, exhausting, where they have licked ice cream and assholes, punched and been punched, learned what a stingray was, got stung by a bee, written the most adoring poems that already contained all love there was to be and those that discussed the next steps in the romantic armageddon as a whisper reserved for pillows and light and a family pet lapping at their sides.
i mention all this (and i do mean it all because i said i would tell you about the song. entitled, dark was the night cold was the ground, it was written by blind willie johnson. i consider it the most important song composed, and i am not alone in that thought.
with no words, but probably described better than these, it hums away at every everything. each loss and life, the reasons and lack of them. it is complete without even being played really. there is no dark. there is no ground. there is only what was there before and after, what is unseen, what required the blind to visualize: what is is is.
please do not think i am posturing or philosophizing or offering some grand skepticism to be unravelled. rather, i think what the song shows is that there is a tune that can be made no different than two rocks colliding together, and it can make you sad in wordless ways that you can try to explain but fail to, and then, for no reason, for any of them, it can end just as it started, in a note of happiness. a single strum. well well.
currently that song, along with 115 images, sounds of dolphins, whales, people saying hi in russian, a few birds, thunder, and basic binary code, is the farthest thing we have ever sent into space. it was on the voyager 1 probe that was blasted off in 1971 to the farthest edge of us. it was on a golden record. it is now spinning among the spun, against a vast distant and dark space.
this song, by a man who was blinded when he was 13, by a man who never had a major record deal, by a man who died in poverty and squalor, is our letter to the universe, an attempt to represent the stuck you and i. it is meant discover those spaces uncharted. it is meant to show some of them too. the song was chosen to capture that which is never filled and arrested: human loneliness.
tonight, it is doing the same. it reaches out to the black. meanwhile, the upstairs tenants have left. where did they go? where does anyone? where did you?
from a blued planet,