I know you

Oh my goodness! It’s a dVerse prompt during Australian EST waking hours! Meet the bar waltzingMy favourite waltz is Tchaikovsky’s  sleeping beauty waltz, which I used to like playing on my clarinet, although it’s better on violin. How long has it been since I played? I wonder if I still can… 

The reed on my tongue tastes
of grasses, river banks,
sunshine under blue skies.
It takes the moisture it
needs from me, honey scent
rises sweet from the cork.
gently turn the barrel,
line joints up, slip the reed
gently into its place,
tighten the ligature,
recall the embouchure…

Now, breathe… and let the reed
offer its silent song
the breath, the reed, gives all,
but the hands – the hands choose
from the dark depths, thrumming,
humming through the breast-bone,
to the high bright bird notes.

Now, ready, breathe again,
Let the notes flow cleanly,
a fluent, fluid dance –
I know you…

So I got out the clarinet after many months (8 months?) and after a few false starts it came back. Then my sons came and complained that they’d had enough of that tune from studying fairy tales and watching Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent for year 8 English…!  When I was at school we read the damn book! 


Filed under poem

45 responses to “I know you

  1. What a beautiful depiction of clarinet playing. It’s such a joy to be able to play music. I’m going to treat myself to a piano one of these days…

  2. deep keep
    sense of self
    you go well
    do tell~

  3. writingwhatnots

    This is lovely to read – ‘let the reed offer its silent song’ – your relationship with your instrument comes through so well in your poem. What a wonderful ability it is to make music (very jealous, only got to grade 2 piano and that was painful!)

    • I only got to grade 2 clarinet 😀 I took it up again 30 years later when my kids started learning music. It does come back, and is much more enjoyable when no one tells you to practice!

  4. So vivid, heartfelt, and beautiful. Instruments have a way of transporting us to another world, and you communicate this beautifully throughout your poem. It shows the wondrous feeling of music and how it never fades. Keep playing on. 🎶

  5. Beverly Crawford

    I much enjoyed the read of the reed!

  6. Lovely, sensory depiction of playing the clarinet–the taste and feel of the reed. Thank you!

  7. I love how you tied in all the senses with the taste of the reed before you came to the breathing…and I imagine your finger dancing… mesmerizing …

  8. I like how you connect music with nature and beauty. Putting music into the air makes angels smile.

  9. What a beautiful music this is. I love how the instrument responded to your hands and breathing.

  10. Wonderful. My Mum used to play clarinet. Early in my childhood I remember her practising the Teddy bear’s picnic. It’s a lovely instrument. And you write about it beautifully.

    • Thank you Worms ❤
      It's an easy one to learn if you ever wanted to take up an instrument.

      • I have learned piano (for years), flute (through high school) and viola (for 18 glorious months in Jakarta). Did you play with a band/orchestra? I so loved viola and flute for that opportunity to play as part of a big group. So exciting and rewarding. Piano has been a long slog and, for some reason, I get incredibly nervous playing in front of people. So while I love some of my pieces I can play, it’s frustrating and I don’t feel that I have achieved a good standard considering how long I have learned/practised.

        • Wow, that’s an impressive selection!
          No, I’ve never played with a band. I’m not sure why – probably a mixture of lack of confidence and not really being good enough.
          I played violin in primary school, clarinet for a few years in high school, then nothing for about 30 years. I’ve enjoyed taking it up again as an adult with no sense of obligation.

        • Yes, it’s nice to dabble as an adult, just ’cause you want to. 🙂

  11. I play the flute, my sister the clarinet …. I should amend that by saying we did in the 1950s! I still have mine and pick it up from time to time. I enjoyed your poem.

    • That’s great that you still have it and play! I had to buy another clarinet, I don’t know what happened to the one I played in high school. But one of my sons now plays my brother’s trumpet.

  12. A gorgeous poem, Kate, which made me think of Joni Mitchell’s ‘one-man band by the quick-lunch stand’ playing his clarinet ‘for free’. I too love the sleeping beauty waltz and I remember the song in the Walt Disney film, ‘I know you’. I would have loved to play clarinet, and love the opening stanza, describing how you prepare to play it, the reed tasing of grasses and river banks, and the breath in the second stanza.

    • Thank you Kim ❤ It's a lovely tune, and I do really like the 1950's Disney movie song.
      It's never too late to learn something new. 😀 Although I did do a violin trial lesson a few years ago, and my back was aching within about 15 mins. Clarinet is definitely less physically demanding.

  13. I enjoyed your descriptions of the clarinet, makes me want to learn a musical instrument. 🙂

  14. You wrote this with the same delicate touch and control of breath that a reed instrument demands, lest it screech at you. This was wonderful to read Kate — well written.

  15. Enjoyed all the details in this, especially, “but the hands – the hands choose
    from the dark depths, thrumming, humming through the breast-bone” so visceral! 👏👏

  16. A great poem, Kate. I love the images you share here. Drooling on your foot is a great one! It is hard to get back into the groove sometimes. With me it is the guitar and sore fingers from strings cutting into the finger tips.

  17. M

    I wish I had learned to play an instrument, especially with how you so vividly bring us there. all I can play is the radio ~

Comments? I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s