January–Song in E Minor – Gayle LaVallee
JANUARY–SONG IN E MINOR
The measured voice of a silver clarinet,
insistent repetitions on a jazz pianist’s keys
flow out in unseen waves across the air from Maine.
Deep blue variations from a distant saxophone
insinuate their point and counterpoint
probing the amber spaces
of this room
on this island
where friends are gathered to acknowledge
a new year.
A subtle shift of windowpane,
the tick and popping of the metal stove
sing out the present cold.
Wine in our mouths brings memories of warmer days,
a taste of those to come.
We laugh and murmur in the glow of lamp- and candle-light,
taut bellies full to bursting with rich food and drink.
We offer up a toast to absent friends.
We speak of love–
the sweet regard we know connects
each one to each, together, to this place.
Guided by chill and cloud-flecked stars
at midnight I walk home.
I wander down the darkened village path,
no sound except the unseen buoy’s chime,
the slight resistant crunch of frozen snow.
The waiting cat and I go in and up the stairs,
I to the warmth of flannel sheets,
he to the flowered quilt atop my chest.
His whiskers silky on my upturned palm,
his steady rumble covering my heart,
I lie at peace within this borrowed room.
Framed by our eastward-looking window
stands the lighthouse on its hill.
We watch its beacon turn and turn again,
probing the nighttime sky.
As deep blue dreams insinuate
their point and counterpoint,
it watches over us, the distant shore, the sea.
Its silvered repetitions sweep in measured grace
across the island spruce, its granite shoals,
its harbor and this home.
Gayle La Vallee