There was a man with tongue of wood Who essayed to sing, And in truth it was lamentable. But there was one who heard The clip-clapper of this tongue of wood And knew what the man Wished to sing, And with that the singer was content.
My table was singing today.
In fine-grained, golden tones it sang of a time when the wind was its friend and the sun spoon fed it sugar and a hummy sort of business was being attended to in its nether regions by legions of creatures.
Thus sang the table, in my quiet room.
It got me to thinking about other songs—songs that are small and not well attended. Songs so great that I could only ever be the faintest trace of a quiet vibration on the final edge of its softest sound.
Here I sit square on Middle C, on a scratched and poorly tuned upright piano in a dusty living room in the middle of the middle of Michigan and now I’m singing my song.
A fine poet once said it was my duty, that singing was the duty of all of who hear the song or any trace of the song. Do you hear it now? Listen hard—hum, it goes hum it goes hum it goes hum it goes hummmm. In a syncopated sort of hummy way. Hum. Like a wave or a pulsar or the strong scent of lavender. Hum. And a drum with the hum and a beat of my heart in the art of the hum and I lumber along with the beat of the song.
Why did we ever stop rhyming? And beating? Thank God for the songs of young people who know that it is the drive of the beat and the heat of the words that beat back defeat and heal the deep wounds that lie in our hearts. It’s the hum and the drum.
What did Dr. Seuss teach us if not that one fish and two fish can last forever? That certain green food had potential far beyond a drab kitchen full of twinkies? Do we remember anything half so well as the song that wakes us in the morning, pounding on day’s door to be heard?
So here I go, humming my little hums, with no drum.
(. . . with maybe a little drum in the background on occasion.)
With my heart beating its own special beat.
Hey Captain, it says, pay attention. There be music in here.