Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Ghost of a Chance

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Ghost of a Chance

Article excerpt

The way a man, bone-tired, enters a hot bath,

Wynton Marsalis steps into the spotlight,

center stage, and eases into Victor Young's

"Ghost of a Chance." Heartbreak billows

from his horn as ectoplasmic mist, its ghostwind

blowing listeners to the Land of Pauper-Loses-Princess-and-Can-Never-Love-Again,

of It's-Over-and-There's-Nothing-I-Can-Do.

Shades float and glimmer in the gloom:

A couple skid down rain-slick sidewalks,

hand in hand. Clothes slither; sheets rustle

in a rented room. When did our lives lose

their perfume? How did they turn dirty

and mean? That's why we're here, dying

to de-fang irony's chainsaw that whines

and whispers, inches from our jugular

to drop the marble bathtub of sophistication

we haul on our backs, and finally come

clean. Now-miracle!-it's happening.

Inner lights click on around the room. Lips

whisper, "I believe." Wynton's horn

gleams like a sun rising. "I don't stand . . .

a . . . ghost. . .," it keens, and calls the Spirit

down. It's coming; then some cell phone toots,

Doctor Pepper is the friendly Pepper upper.

Wynton freezes: a statue in black ice. …

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