Eileen Tabios

Brubeck Notes
           —after “Girl Singing.     Day” by Jose Garcia Villa

Girl singing.    Day.    Dave Brubeck

on stage.    White linen blazer.    White
hair. Regaling the audience with a tale.
Fireflies dancing in his eyes.

His wife was clearing the sun porch for visitors:
“children, grand-children and great-grandchildren”—
the latter proclaimed with utmost pride!

Girl singing.    Day.    “We needed all
the beds and all the floor space
we could muster,” proclaimed The Father

of West Coast Cool
. Mrs. Brubeck
stumbled across an old manuscript,
brought it to him and asked, “What

do you think this is?” He scanned
the faded notes, played them on the piano
then confidently proclaimed with glee:

“I don’t know what it is but it’s damn
good!” Mr. Brubeck decided to finish
the old tune. Girl singing.    Day.

As his wife continued to clear the porch
she found the song’s second half
from years ago. But Mr. Brubeck preferred

his new conclusion. To everyone’s delight,
his choice was proven right when
he and his trio performed “The Time of Our

Madness”— Randy Jones on drums, Jack
Six on string bass, Bobby Militello on saxophone
and Girl singing.    Day.    Sometimes, the perfect

pitch needs time. Like bottles of champagne
rotated in their racks, inch by inch
meticulously for months. Or cabernet settling

in oak barrels buried in underground caves.
Like basting Thanksgiving turkey for twelve
hours straight. Time passing.    Girl singing.

Day.    Like Mr. Brubeck’s turn to music
only after studying pre-med to heal cattle
as a vet. Oh! These long, long days for

Heaven nearer than a breath away.


Girl singing.    Day.    It occurs to me

I have loved well despite fire
burning the white gown
mother once knelt to hem

for me.    Day. I have loved well
despite the stake to which you
tied my limbs. Warriors led by

generals out of retirement
rounded curves recklessly
to rescue me. Girl singing.

Day.    Before a young soldier
freed me—his scent of milk
my fresh air—I had breathed

in your sorrow.    Day.    I forgive:
may you never know cold
ashes and burlap. May you never

feel tar and black feathers. May
you know what I saw through
flames: a star leaving night

to rupture cerulean sky and hover
as hope.    Girl singing.    Day.
Stallions soared over moats

and blade-tipped barricades
by following the light
of the star that sundered night.

Girl singing    Day.    May you
know rebirth through a second
chance. May you live in Heaven

nearer than a breath away.

Dearest Nelson,
(—after A TRANSATLANTIC LOVE AFFAIR: Letters to Nelson Algren by Simone De Beauvoir)

                      Saturday, 12th July 1947

Girl singing.    Day.    Simone visits

Porto Vecchio. Lobster at noon. Dinner,
too. “A fine little village” despite a
“dirty little inn.” Half-naked girls

on walls—“all kinds with black or
red hair.” But then “a nice little
tortoise walking on the bed, and

everywhere.”    Girl singing.    Day.
Dusk brings a “whole village, lighted
with candles.” Young and old listen

“in a very intense way” to a dark-
haired communist girl explain
“what is fascism.” Simone confides

“I do not like the CP, but
I liked the people trying so hard
to learn something about the big world.”

Girl singing again the following Day
despite bus delays, a “half-dressed”
driver and rushing down “narrow

winding roads.”
           “Everybody laughing and laughing
             and nobody caring for lost time.”

The joy of arriving at some “poor inn”
where peasants eat “bad oily soup”
and drink red wine. Girl singing.

The next Day: the bus is halted,
then surrounded, by “a lot of little
partridges”! Simone clapping hands

with glee! “Everybody being crazy.”
Then an evening gunshot that turns
everyone “mad with excitement.”

Only to be “very disappointed for
nobody was killed.” No chastising
sense of irony. “I like the way they

enjoy life”! Girl singing. I like
the way they “make excitement”!
Day. Later, in the water, Simone

can barely swim, only moves a little:
“Yet I like it very much.” Oh,
“Nelson, my love.” “My own

Nelson.” “Mon bien-aime.” I
describe the “fine country of
Corsica” so that I share this Heaven

across an ocean, but a breath away.

Plant Latin

Girl singing.    Day.    Osmanthus

peering through polka dots
and lace. Prunus Laurocerasus
standing tall and proper. Then

Gieijera Parviflora picnicking by
mushroom caps without ants on
the lawn.     Girl singing.    Day.

Salvia Leucantha timidly turns
a brick corner. Callistemon
insists he’s not—

oh, he’s not!—short. Callistemon
Phenicus ‘Prostrata’
fiery, never prostate. Girl

singing.    Day.    Pyracantha
touting fire deep within
her cornucopia. Prunus Cerasifera

damming violet tears.
Trachycarpus Fortunei blowing
dandelions off their feet. Plum-

bago Auriculata
a felt cloak,
a felt beret.    Girl singing.    Day.
Acer Buergerianum no longer

a weapon, but an elegant maple.
Doryanthes Palmeri no longer
a weapon, just the shyest

of lilies. Girl singing strangely.
But it remains Day. Silly girl
singing for heaven hovers

nearer than a breath away.

Infinity’s Fragment

An acorn nudges me
I feel Your hand
lift my face

           Girl singing.    Day…

Eileen Tabios most recent books are DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS (Otoliths, 2006) and the multi-genre SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss (Blue Lion, 2007). This fall, she will release THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007). As well as Spanish and Tagalog, her poems have been translated into Japanese, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Mixed Media Collages and Sculpture.

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