In the hard months after I’d split from my first husband
there were times when I could not bear
to listen to music at all and especially not
to Tuck & Patti
and my favorite album of theirs, Love Warrior,
with its refrain: “We give up on Love
so easily…” because Patti Cathcart’s voice always sounded
like it had been soaked in the dark rum
of requited passion for a thousand years,
whereas I’d been stripped down to the bones
of myself, and they were bare, honey,
they were dry as unbuttered toast,
so whenever I heard that song
I’d find myself in a sodden heap on the floor.
Patti’s voice was an infusion,
almost unbearable in its potency, a womanly call to rise
and face life’s entwined and ever-shifting harmonies,
syncopation of the sublime against a backbeat
of the real; the tune I needed to hear
with my whole shattered heart.
You can’t put that kind of art
on a staff with notes and a treble clef.
Who knows where it came from, what battlefield
she had to stagger through to sing it
with that kind of conviction, blood-streaked,
smoke haloing her curls,
yet clothed in a faith I let enter me
through osmosis, praying that someday its sweet echo
might find me on my feet again.
Alison Luterman’s books of poems include The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University press), See How We Almost Fly (Pearl Editions), Desire Zoo (Tia Chucha Press), and In the Time of Great Fires (Catamaran Press). She has published poems in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Five of her personal essays have been collected in the e-book Feral City, published at http://www.shebooks.net. She has also written half a dozen plays, including several musicals. She has taught and/or been poet-in-residence at California Poets in the Schools, New College in San Francisco, Holy Names College in Oakland, The Writing Salon in Berkeley, at Esalen and Omega Institutes, at the Great Mother Conference, and at various writing retreats all over the country. Check out her website http://www.alisonluterman.net for more information.