Monday, March 28, 2005

Maybe I'm Going About It The Wrong Way

So I've been reading Edward Hirsch's The Demon and the Angel, which so far has been mostly a lovely and (for me) illuminating tribute to Lorca. This particular passage, though, comes from the end of a chapter he has spent praising Frank O'Hara's lament for Billie Holiday, "The Day Lady Died."

O'Hara's poem reminds me of a little girl with a limp I once saw tap dancing on a street corner in New Orleans. She was going through her ordinary repertoire of rehearsed moves when her accompanist hit a string of unexpectedly low chords and suddenly something indecipherable, almost lunatic, jarred awake inside her, and she started dancing with terrific ferocity. She took off. The dramatic change in intensity was almost frightening. It was also apparent to everyone present. We all understood immediately that something astonishing was taking place before us. The sidewalk seemed to part as the spirit winged through the crowd like a flame. The summer afternoon sizzled. Time stopped. Her duende had arrived.

All of which made me think: I've been standing at the bus stop for awhile now, checking my watch every now and again, and my duende is very, very late.

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