, Newburyport, MA


April 1, 2013

A flip of the falcon


I might beg the bird for mercy, as I have never trolled that common, lowbrow joke about why Bach had 20 children. No, no, no, I would never stoop so low for laughs by adding that his organ had no stops.

However, offense may be worse every time I pipe melodies as elegant and uplifting as the opening of the “Bach Double” into jigs and rags, flapping my arms, flexing my knees, fixing my eyes, flaring my nostrils, at times vocally chirping or quacking between measures.

Purists demand: “What gives you the right?”

Firmly: “Because Bach is dead. And I am not.”

“Have you no shame?”

Shame? A word I keep hearing but have no idea what it is. Like “rehearsal” and “practice.”

All the hooting is musical camouflage: Baching up the wrong notes.

Whether I went into shock — as it is clinically defined — for these whimsical, nonsensical and slightly surrealistic musings is doubtful. After all, I resumed speed and stayed in one lane.

Only when an ambulance screeched past did I realize I missed my exit by 3.5 miles — and people waiting would not tolerate any story about Johann Sebastian Bird.

Otherwise, I would have hallucinated all the way onto the New York Thruway aiming for Cornell.

That’s where I imagined I was going, although in sober retrospect I should have passed Ithaca, continued all 350 miles to Syracuse, turning south for the Onondaga Nation.

Not sure of eastern tribes, but Dakota tribes believe that birds can carry the spirit of the departed.

Always thought they were recently departed, people known to those who see the birds, with or without field glasses. Some such encounters can be unpleasant.

One young Lakota Sioux saw a low-flying hawk cross a road before him, close enough to hit the brakes. He then u-turned and detoured 35 miles on the desolate Rosebud Reservation rather than cross the path of that long-gone hawk.

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