Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

That New Orleans Night, A Few Notes Short of Tomorrow

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

That New Orleans Night, A Few Notes Short of Tomorrow

Article excerpt

September when the river's brown breath is hesitant and first dark rounds forgotten corners and seems teal tinged with gray, voices can be heard, Southern voices, and feet tapping, tapping to tunes the Blues piano player plays without an interlude and, there amid dissembling, there in the corner of the room, barroom with its soft scent of wonder and doom, desire is never satisfied, and the song stops a whole note short of finishing before the next tune, its cadence, tinny and thin, begins, and a man sitting loose and wanting says to someone sitting beside him, "you just keep right on going and you'll find it," the disbelief of cemeteries and the ding of the streetcar taking its toll, railing against cruelty, but nobody caught in the circle of sound or outside it listening in, knows where to go or where to get off, the taste of apple in his mouth and the wind coming up without obvious purpose, unlike the Mississippi, certain of shallows and shores, of destination, certain as fog, as meandering, the Big Muddy, its mouth open, ready to say, vowels and consonants, sound saying, and the long poised fingers of the piano-man lifted just above the black notes and the white, hands holding to moments, to intervals of time, the signature always more than measure, the grasp of fingers and opposing thumb, story, roundelay, tale of a man and a woman and what they hold to long past longing has passed and before, just before, what has been ligature is played again, again, again. …

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