Two Students Looking at a Postcard of a Painting by Gustav Klimt While Listening to Gavin Walker Play Jazz at the Classical Joint Coffee House, Vancouver, BC by Tom Wayman
Two Students Looking at a Postcard of a Painting by Gustav Klimt While Listening to Gavin Walker Play Jazz at the Classical Joint Coffee House, Vancouver, BC
Drums again along the inlet:
two blocks south of the docks
on a rainy Thursday evening,
white man's drums
filling the room with a white rain.
At a table a young man and a young woman
here on a date begin the first touches and whispers
that will lead to another beginning with the flesh.
But now she holds onto his sweater at his chest
as she leans in to put her mouth at his ear
to say something through the music.
He is the more shy of the pair.
Yet his arm touches her sweatered arm
as he bends his head almost into her hair to reply.
Her fingers stay on his shoulder;
his face is dazed with pleasure and fear.
Now Gavin Walker rises to the microphone
with his alto sax, and begins.
He is less than a meter from the two
crowded in at a front table, but the young man
sits partly turned from the music
staring down at his coffee, while the woman
watches the musicians past his face.
Gavin Walker strains at his work, his right foot
lifts from the floor
as his saxophone throws
into the steady falling white water of the drums
the notes that are harsh sparks
of reddish-brown light. At his back
the two others of his group
half-interestedly follow him: the electric bass
placing its bars of black sound
underneath the others' music, and the electric guitar
releasing form time to time into the room
its clusters of floating yellow globes.
At the table in front, the young man turns
and from the chairback pulls out of an inside pocket of his coat
a postcard of a painting by Gustav Klimt.
He lays the card flat on the table, positioned
so the young woman can see
and bends her head to look at it too,
their hair almost touching.
It is a glittering pattern of gold and muted colors
meant to depict a woman. They do not speak.
After a few seconds
the young man takes the card from the table
and returns it to his coat again.
But now he sits with his back to her, facing the musicians.
The young woman rests her chin gently on his shoulder,
her arm around his body, holding him.
Gavin Walker finishes a solo run, but no one claps;
the drums and electric strings
drive the music forward through the night.
Before the set is over, the young man and young woman
get up to go. Gavin Walker is working again;
they have to squeeze between the microphone and the table
in order to leave. They move past him in their coats
into the wet darkness outside the door
carrying the postcard with them.
Gavin Walker does not watch them go.
It is almost midnight. He will do a slow ballad next
and then an old Miles Davis piece. After the break
he will cut the second set off short.
There are always smaller crowds on a rainy night
and this evening hardly anyone will be left in the room
"Two Students Looking at a Postcard...", Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993 by Tom Wayman, Harbour Publishing, 1993, www.harbourpublishing.com
Tom Wayman is an award winning author of more than 20 books, mostly poetry.
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