Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Song Bird

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
-From the poem 'A Minor Bird' by Robert Frost

"Come home, Eileen," trilled the little old lady with zesty spirit. I was sixteen and caught unawares in the living room as my Great Aunt's friend suddenly broke into song. Her voice was throaty and rugged and kept cracking for she was older even than the Aunt.
It would have been dreadfully rude to leave the room at that moment. The door, also, was too far away. The traditional song went on, I believe, for two hundred verses and I hid as best as I could behind my mother. Mater had no shield. The singer was oblivious and blissfully chanting but my mother's Aunt, ever the stern lady, was keeping a close eye on me: I could feel hot beams of maddened light streaming across the room, pulsating through my mother and forcefully striking me.
She Knew.
We were embarrassed; we had not expected a display of music and the song was so serious, so blatantly personal to the poor old lady and so somber that it was excruciating. I wanted to be anywhere else but ensnared in that room as audience to a concert I did not request. If only the old dear had warned us but there was nothing to announce the onslaught of warbling.
Do not come home, Eileen. There is an awkward moment afoot.
After the tune ended, Mater, reeling, served much needed tea and biscuits. The old lady, whom we shall call Mrs. W., munched happily and reminisced about her life and times. She lamented that some stories and songs were harder for her to recall nowadays.
"What's that disease," she sipped some tea out of a dainty cup, "where you can't remember anything?"
Mrs. W. snapped her bony fingers several times until Mater, gasping with the utter painfulness of the hour and the urge to cry with laughter, supplied the answer.
We shall never forget that harrowing afternoon.


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful...intricate and thought-provoking...


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hi Tracey,
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you coming by to visit :)


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