An Ode to High Fidelity as I Look Back on My Life During a Rainstorm in April
Rain pouring from the porch–
background to the time my parents keep
on the living room floor with their feet
shuffling to Dave Brubeck on the record player
and the evening is gold
that pours in through the shutters,
light that makes me rub my eyes because it is
seven thirty and, at three-years-old, humming jazz means
it is time for me to take a bath
dress in a cotton nightgown and go to sleep
with the light of the hallway coming through
the crack at the bottom of my bedroom door.
And this humming becomes the sound outside of
my screened window, the sounds of cicadas, the
sound of cars a block away from Wilson Avenue.
The backdrop of Merril Street’s record shop and Kim:
all clove cigarette covered jackets and popping vinyl.
The full summer had for us to learn
how far to go with a boy and Bowie on
in the background
and still be considered good…
how to buy a pack of Dunhills
at the party store without getting carded.
I had always worn the kilts my Dad brought from London
on his banking trips.
I knew the Lord’s prayer by heart
reciting it every week with my family in the Abbey.
But, something cracked inside me that summer
and I wanted to listen to something other than Nancy Wilson with my Dad.
I wanted to tie dye my life
with the colors of Zeppelin
to smoke in my room with the window open,
exhales drifting into the Spurlings’ back yard.
Younge Street crashed against us, the honeymooners,
on our way to Donitello’s–the restaurant the bellman suggested
that was off on an unknown side street in Toronto.
As we walk, I can feel the music pass over my skin
with the wet April air and I cover my shoulder with one hand and hold
the rose you gave me with the other
and when we walk inside of a room
that holds eight tables,
the violinist covers me with the sound of
what gypsies must have sung
and I want to stay, I want to learn all of the songs
I have never heard before because I am
twenty-four and this is what it is like
to live in another country,
to be a part of another place.
it is about learning new music…
We caught the 11:00 bus to Edinburgh
after everyone retired for the night
and crossed the bridge to the old side.
Everyone camped out on the streets
in their tents and drank the whiskey they
had bought earlier in the day.
We took the old stone steps
to an underground pub and heard the rock music
ricochet against the old walls.
But I couldn’t make peace with it in my soul…
because there should have been Mahler’s Fifth Symphony
wandering around behind us as we walked away.
It should have hid behind the entryways of
restaurants when we looked back to see if it was following us
because it shouldn’t be something we completely heard,
it should have wafted up through the trees with the rest of
it shouldn’t have spied when I kissed you in the middle of the street.
* * * * *
Heather Ann Schmidt is an adjunct professor at Oakland Community College in Michigan. She edits tinfoildresses poetry journal. Her poems can be found in various online and print journals. Her books include Channeling Isadora Duncan (Gold Wake Press), The Owl & the Muse: Collected Tanka (recycled karma press), The Bat’s Love Song: American Haiku (Crisis Chronicles Press), Njaa (recycled karma press) and a full collection of poems forthcoming from Village Green Press. She received her MFA from National University.
Her Transient Angels and Red Hibiscus are coming soon from Crisis Chronicles Press.