A month or two ago a reader sent along this Philip Levine poem. I'm reminded of my arrival, 23 years ago on New Year's Day, in Los Angeles. Or rather our arrival: me, my then-husband Tim, and the cat, Blanche.
Tim's back East.
2012 was, in its way, stupendous.
Happy New Year.
My mother tells me she dreamed
of John Coltrane, a young Trane
playing his music with such joy
and contained energy and rage
she could not hold back her tears.
And sitting awake now, her hands
crossed in her lap, the tears start
in her blind eyes. The TV set
behind her is gray, expressionless.
It is late, the neighbors quiet,
even the city—Los Angeles—quiet.
I have driven for hours down 99,
over the Grapevine into heaven
to be here. I place my left hand
on her shoulder, and she smiles.
What a world, a mother and son
finding solace in California
just where we were told it would
be, among the palm trees and all-night
super markets pushing orange
back-lighted oranges at 2 A.M.
“He was alone,” she says, and does
not say, just as I am, “soloing.”
What a world, a great man half
her age comes to my mother
in sleep to give her the gift
of song, which—shaking the tears
away—she passes on to me, for now
I can hear the music of the world
in the silence and that word:
soloing. What a world—when I
arrived the great bowl of mountains
was hidden in a cloud of exhaust,
the sea spread out like a carpet
of oil, the roses I had brought
from Fresno browned on the seat
beside me, and I could have
turned back and lost the music.
and let us greet the dawn of 2013!