My place among the music

I didn’t read much poetry when I was younger. As a child, I didn’t find myself lost in words as I hear some writers were. I don’t know if I had a favorite book (perhaps “A Light in the Attic,” or “Misty of Chincoteague” – the story of a family raising a filly born of a wild horse). I did love those books. Misty fed my healthy obsession. I loved the way horses smelled, their soft velvet noses.
But I don’t remember studying much poetry is early schooling. Bits here and there, “The Raven,” Shakespeare. I just wanted to be outside. But I wrote poems before I really knew what they were. Something sounded in me, called me to a piece of paper when I was 8 years old and my hamster died. Something else needed to be said after we buried him in the backyard. My small grief, which was not so small at the time, over the loss of a beloved pet needed another body. And then a love potion for my parents in first grade. 5 years divorced and I drew a picture of them facing each other, arms out, casting love dust, flowers and grape juice. Or the ode to a best friend – I made two. My mom matted both – one for me, one I gave to her.
I wasn’t surrounded so much with other’s poetry when I was younger, but what I was surrounded by was music. My mom was a cello player in her younger years. My Dad played the guitar and once owned a music shop in Napa. I remember the jam sessions, my brother strumming along, picking up strings and chords. And I’d listen trying to make words.
My uncle blew a great French horn – we used to watch him in the Christmas parade at Disneyland – purple tights, he looked like something out of Robin Hood. My aunt played the flute, my grandma the guitar – she played at hospitals until her arthritic fingers swelled and she couldn’t anymore. And my brother – self taught – guitar and the keyboard. I’d listen with my ear to the wall. He sounds like Prince and Billy Corgan, but better. And we can sing! Some of us I’ve never heard. We have quiet voices at times. It’s a shame we don’t use them more.
But I started with the recorder, by force, in 4th grade, moved to the flute, the Viola. My mom floated the idea of the piano – but I felt my fingers were too small.
I always loved listening, the movement, the sounds, but none of them called to me. And I wonder now if my music was words? If the words came more naturally than any note? I can strum a guitar, but not very well. I can sing. But when I think of my lineage, my grandpa a teacher and writer, my grandma a singer and musician I feel the combination of music and words. I feel the poetry.

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