All right, the photo at rehearsal yesterday of the wooden flute with brass threading didn’t come off. I grabbed it too quickly, and it came out blurry. But there was something at work already, about one of the characters. Often, when that happens, bits gather, the way leaves get pushed together in a strong wind.
Strong wind was another element in the chain.Violent winds on the Atlantic coast, they said. Here, far inland, everything shook in gusts. When I walked by the local hospital, the metallic shutters on the windows made an unholy racket. What grief the sound must have have added to a body sick enough to lie in bed – the thought, at once mine and half-conscious in the character. On the way back from the bakery, near the hospital, I stopped and stared for a long time at this:
Because of my frame of mind, it struck me as a metaphor of fiction – the shadow of a tree supporting real leaves. Vice-versa would have worked too. I came home and reached for a book from the poetry section in my living room: Opened Ground – Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney.
I opened at random, and read :
The Given Note
On the most westerly Blasket
In a dry-stone hut
He got this air out of the night.
Strange noises were heard
By others who followed, bit of a tune
Coming in on loud weather
Though nothing like melody.
He blamed their fingers and ear
As unpractised, their fiddling easy
For he had gone alone into the island
And brought back the whole thing.
The house throbbed like his full violin.
So whether he calls it spirit music
Or not, I don’t care. He took it
Out of wind off mid-Atlantic.
Still, he maintains, from nowhere.
It comes off the bow gravely,
Rephrases itself into the air.*
Then, the niggling thing in my mind led to: of course, on this first re-encounter with this particular someone from his past, the character would react with much greater caution.
Somewhere in the background, guy wires thrummed. The ones holding down a house in high winds in Annie Proulx’ Shipping News.
Now, for the character to move along with some of this, plus some of the things he hasn’t said yet. Surprises? No doubt; at least the writer hopes so.
*there should be breaks in the poem. At “Strange noises were heard”, “Though nothing like melody”, “For he had gone alone”, “So whether he calls it”, and “Still he maintains”. I insert these breaks in the draft, but they don’t show up in the online version.