An Excerpt From Kevin Brockmeier’s “Things That Fall From the Sky”

Of all the forms of voice and communion, a song is perhaps the least mediated by the intellect. It ropes its way though the tangle of our cautions, joining singer to listener like a vine between two trees. I once knew a man whose heart percussed in step with the music that he heard; he would not listen to drums played in hurried or irregular cadence; he left concerts and dances and parties, winced at passing cars, and telephoned his neighbors when they played their stereos too loudly, in the fear that with each unsteady beat he might malfunction. Song is an exchange exactly that immediate and physiological. It attests to the life of the singer through our skin and through our muscles, through the wind in our lungs and the fact of our own beating heart. The evidence of other spirits becomes that of our own body. Speech is sound shaped into meaning through words, inflection, and modulation. Music is sound shaped into meaning through melody, rhythm, and pitch. A song arises at the point where these two forces collide. But such an encounter can occur in more than one place. Where, then, is song most actual and rich- in the singer or in the audience?

Dream pretty dreams
touch beautiful things
let all the skies surround you
swim with the swans
and believe that upon
some glorious dawn
love will find you.

A successful song comes to sing itself inside the listener. It is cellular and seismic, a wave coalescing in the mind and in the flesh. There is a message outside and a message inside, and those messages are the same, like the pat and thud of two heartbeats, one within you, one surrounding. The message of the lullaby is that it’s okay to dim the eyes for a time, to lose sight of yourself as you sleep and as you grow: if you drift, it says, you’ll drift ashore: if you fall, you will fall into place.

And if you see some old fool
who looks like a friend
tell him good night old man
my friend.

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