A. Van Jordan reads
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
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I place the trombone back on its stand, after attempting “Summertime” in C major. Childhood memories of band camp and lessons stream to my embouchure, hands and gut, after the ringing in my head has passed, and the notes settle, it seems, at my feet; I linger on a photograph of my family: my parents, brothers and nephew. I suppose I stare off into it, longer than I mean to, thinking of my father, dead eight months now. The color image blurs a bit on this print, not recalling his smile as I recall it in memory. And, also, the camera didn’t know this would be his last photo, so the occassion was captured with people moving like apparitions in the background more than the spirit of the man in the midst of it all. Even with digital cameras, there’s still a pointillist dotting flesh on the faces of my family. I shake my head to clear the trance and turn on the television. First, news of a woman raped; the pundits keep the stress on “alleged.” I think of all the women who are watching TV now. I turn the channel to a rerun of CSI. All this technology, yet we still can’t prove rape. What’s the use of suspending disbelief? I turn the TV off and sit back down to the horn, but it’s still next to the photo. This time I notice my father’s hand at rest on my nephew’s shoulder. My nephew might be practicing his cello as I sit in front of this brass, which turns to folk art in my hands. I don’t really play anymore, you know. I once thought music would be my life. And it’s simply too easy to try to play and say, That’s enough, to easy to say, At least my nephew plays strings. Nothing changes that easily. It’s in the way the mouthpiece refuses to kiss me back, how the ceiling fan whirs in the room, yet humidity hangs in the air. A need builds in me only after struggle builds around me, a mythical ether challenging this horn with its song stuck in its throat: memory, the present moment and all the notes falling between them, struggling to get out.