augury doggerel

Monday, September 13, 2004


On a fine late afternoon I sit, a man in a cafe chair. There are no cars allowed in this part of the city. You hear people and smell people. Women clip past on stone. Cups settle into saucers.

The sun moves on to a high window and I am illuminated in the reflected light. I lean back. Now drums, invisible. Now drums and brass. "You Are My Sunshine."

They come around the corner. "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain." Pom-pom girls and a band in a military uniform. "When the Saints Come Marching In." It's an American medley. They head for the river. "Down By the Riverside." Not songs like these songs, but these exact songs.

Behind the band, like part of the band, half a dozen dreadlocked boys prance and thump out another beat on bongos.

Walking just as closely again behind the bongo players are fifteen or twenty "traditional" musicians. Hats and boots and long dresses and laced bodices. They swing hips and look choreographed looks at one another. They sing and fiddle Polish mountain music, not after the brass band, not with the brass band, but up against the brass band and the American folk songs and the bongo rhythm section.

In a long day, there are just these two minutes. Then I order another coffee and the sun moves off me and the ghost of Charles Ives is laid. Can I convince you that this happened? It happened in daylight in the center of town.


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