adventures in dysthymia

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuskegee Haibun

I thought I had lost this piece, written nine years ago. I could not find it in my papers, in my computer files, online. So last night it turned up in a folder of completely unrelated material and it now appears here for the first time.

This is a 'haibun' or sort of, anyway --- alternating prose passages and senryu-style poems. I wrote it after one of my trips to record at Tuskegee University.


Tuskegee Haibun

The students at Tuskegee chatter as they walk past Booker T. Washington’s resting place. The marker has become a part of their everyday life, seen but not seen. In the late afternoon, the cross atop the chapel casts its shadow across the small plot of graves.

passers-by
no longer notice
the old grave

The chapel is tall and angular, pointing to the Alabama sky. Inside, a pianist practices for her evening performance. This is why I have come so far.

three hundred miles
to hear a piano
played well

I set up a pair of microphones to record. It is no great skill, yet suddenly people become deferential. I am, of a sudden, doctor, shaman, possessor of arcane knowledge.

the engineer
fusses with his settings
for effect

Bach and Liszt, waltzes and hymns: the music rises into the scalloped vault. I check my levels from time to time, then listen. This is music I do not wish to experience through headphones. After the applause — lower the volume — I pack for the long drive back. Soon, I am on the road, stopping only at the rest areas for coffee and snacks.

vending machine
sells Moon Pies~
almost home

Stephen Brooke ©2004

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