Tuesday, April 26, 2011

listen to the night

My first request! And since I sleep so little, the theme of night sounds is one of which I could write at length. When all becomes dark, when the world consists of you lying on your bed pondering the ebony cloak of eventide, it is sound itself that intensifies and becomes a symphonic world of its own played by the orchestra of the night. Tomorrow's (or tonight's) theme... listen to the night.

Wallaby Creek, Australia: Summer rain again misting over the subtropical rainforest, larger drops marking the end of their journey with a ding against the tin of our rain collector. The low, constant buzzing in the distance -- almost as large trucks rolling down some remote highway -- yet there is no such highway anywhere around. The droning deep hum persists uncannily, the mating call of male koalas to potential partners -- an ominous, persistent wooing full of desire and urgency, a dusk-murmuring love note from beau to inamorata rattling beneath the depths of night. The wet, whistling jamboree of the frog chorus improvising propulsive rhythms for the night witness. The slow plodding of the bulky monitor lizard, hissing at the sight of its prey... the night whispers, allures, composes and performs itself... the sonar-like ping of the bellbirds marking the return of morning from their eucalypt perch.

Northern Ontario: Tent-mate rustling beside me in her sleeping bag cocoon. The descending silver solo of the rain owl interrupted by the rhythmic bass of the great grey owl, reminding all of its territory... reminding me of my foreign status. Wavering quiver of loon songs. The squeak and zip of a nearby tent as muffled voices awake and tell of their dreams, then pause, then rise in night-heavy-enveloped alarm. My ears sharpen and my eyes close in order to hear what they have heard. River breeze bristles through the needles of balsam pine and glides across the smooth leaves of black ash. The mellifluous lapping of gentle currents on the shore. The sky-blue tincture of long paddling days intoning memories from the inside and foretelling of breaking dawn.

Lake house, winter: Cold breaking glacial outside my cracked window. Frigid silence spreading its preternatural echo over impossible winter expanse. Letters from thousands of miles away piled upon my nightstand, their autography speaking, whispering over and through the saturnine quiet. Car labors through the thickness of algor, arctic climb, its engine fumbling, its wheels roaring against all that fights this lonesome, wintry onslaught. Field of snow unbroken outside my window hovers. It cracks, ever so slightly. It sounds like a thousand axes cleaving their passage into the crevices of iron core within the hard heavy earth.

Aix-en-Provence: Screeching mopeds blasting through empty, cigarette-stained streets. Plane trees standing at full salute, the breadth of arms and centuries thickening the Mediterranean air with auditory reminiscence. Fountains trickling over ancient stone voices. Wisps of the Mistral in its receding passage westward. The abrupt and unfettered laughter of one lover chasing another down well-loved sidewalks. Church bell escaping from its cloistered home, spreading over wide avenues lost in time, resounding against elaborately carved walnut doors, tapestries of kings... finding its way to the outskirts of town to lyrical landscape overseen by the haunting presence of Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Here and now: Birch quiet. Highway rumblings. Words and thoughts and feelings mixing into night harmony, night discordance. Flutter of wings. Sweet first drizzle of rain. Cellphone buzz -- 3am text coming through. The reverberation of sleepless hours. Your voice in my heart, soothing me, lulling me, turning off the night noise... I fall into the night of your susurration, shadowy aurora awaiting patiently... your heartbeat my eternal reassuring rhythm... my forever night sound.

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