Sunday, March 1, 2009

What Comes In Through the Window

Birdsong, when the weather is good, and the neighbors on the 3rd floor throw open their shutters and hang the caged canary in the sunshine in Seville. Hang two cages, each with a canary, in the sunshine, that sing and sing to be freed. A woman singing, roughly, hanging her laundry to dry on a rack near the window, wearing a white dress with black polka-dots, she sings and catches my eye through the window as I pass. A dog, a little wiener-shaped wire-haired dog, that might as well be a rat, barking, its little bark enough to urge me to violence, even I, who love dogs. Then the dog-mother walks it, the cling! clang! of the iron gate, where it squats in the street, and then returns with her, quiet now, for a time. A short time as people are yelling, in Spanish of course, shouting at each other, a lover’s quarrel, as if this is what the voice was made for. Another voice was made to sing, the man upstairs, bass or bass baritone, he sings his warm-up scales, resonant and warming, and I am transported to that opera house in Prague where I saw Figaro, my first. A saxophone, when I pass under it in the evening hours, through the open window as its piper practices and the sounds rolls down into the narrow, ancient streets and smile upon me. And I don’t even care for jazz. Love, the hard-edged sounds of it roughened by the drum beat pulse of it from the flat next door. The workers overhauling the building, “Oi! Oi! Oi!” and the psst-whir of the construction elevator. The gentle breeze, topping the palm trees, the one that comes up in the courtyard there. The smell of a kitchen, garlic and roasting something in an oven when I pass, the bread too from the little bakeries and coffee when I sit near my own window which comes forward from the back of my flat. The fuggy city smell with carbon and carbon monoxide, sewer stink and lovely roast lamb from the kebab shop. Oranges, fallen from the city trees and pounded into the cobble stones by cars and bicycles and feet. The sun, warming my face. Cigarette smoke from inside and outside the building manager’s lungs. Darkness. The cold.

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