Rhythm & Genes

Quoted from, “Keep that Candle Burning Bright & Other Poems” by Bronwen Wallace
Contributed by: Anne Chiareli

The Dedication (an excerpt)
…These poems are for Emmylou Harris, to say thanks for the songs, for how they sing of hot summer nights on the highway and wine and falling in love and Jesus and the light someone puts in the window to guide you home.

They are homely like that and corny and clichéd. And necessary, yes, as my love for that kid who still embarrasses me, angers, hurts, the kid who fails.

They burn from what is strong in me, as each of us, in our best moments, tries to love the noisy, untidy selves we’ve lost, out there somewhere.

That’s what I hope, anyway. That she’ll know. Know it’s me who’s calling. My voice like a candle in the night, bringing her in…

Rhythm and Genes (an excerpt)
We all hear – though we may not be conscious of – the beat that thrums through every human conversation. Rhythmic synchrony it’s called, our sync sense, which, like the other five, conducts us through the worlds we make of each other, or in this case, sets us dancing in each other’s stops and starts, digressions, turns and leaps of thought, hyperbole, lies, warnings, lovers’ cries – we move to music, and the scientists who study this sort of thing (sociolinguistic microanalysts they call themselves) can clock the tempo with a metronome, and score it, too, each eighth note, triplet, rest and syncopation measured as a waltz or a square-dance. The word’s melody and the body’s, too: the eyebrows going up or down, the chin’s jut, fingers’ flex, hands in the air and shoulders coming in on the shrug – it’s all there and what’s more, they say, it’s vital to what we listen to, or how. Why, some of them would even claim we learned it way back when, mastodons, say, and needing to know how to throw our spears in unison, on the beat, or hear the cry, clearing its way through all the other cries, that warned us our young were in danger. Such music’s all around us, seeded by our mothers’ heartbeats, dreamy and persistent as those water-memories we know we have, of being born. It keeps us constantly in auditory touch: in less than 14 milliseconds thoughts in my head translate to muscular movements in my throat and mouth, to airways by which your eardrum oscillates in absolute synchrony with my voice. So you can see how easily the whole thing flies apart if we listen only to the meaning of the words. Most microanalysts would say that we could end lovers’ quarrels, racial conflicts, even the possibility of nuclear war, right now, today, if we’d just go with the music, which is everywhere and everything, the pulse of the atom, the singing of the spheres…

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