A R D E N  L E V I N E

Second / Grace [A Requiem for Two Voices in 2020]

I.
It’s two minutes, two verses.
(One, really: The lyrics of the verses are the same.)
Briefly, then.


                                                                                                                                         A.
       We have a new hi-fi; so S, who once worked in radio, doesn’t mind the lockdown.
   He puts on Bryter Later, its title apt (or aspirational) in the confounding first days.
        Listening to “Fly”, I hear Nick Drake helplessly stretch for the note to say Please.

II.
It has 88 words. If you don’t draw a distinction between
Nick Drake’s enunciated “you”
(none of you stand so tall)
and his half-swallowed “ye” (pink moon gonna get ye all),
it has only 25 unique words.

                                                                                                                                          B.
                  On my next solitary walk, Spotify spins the album Pink Moon, new to me.
  For its half-hour length, starting with the title track, Nick Drake whispers goodbye.
                                           I’m not yet practiced at mask-wearing, possibly part of why
                                                      I must stop to sit, my breaths coming in short waves.

III.
In the interlude between verses, Nick Drake twice sings

Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon, the “moon”
a seed buried in soft ground below his range.


                                                                                                                                         C.
                                  Later, I tell S what the algorithm chose. His radio baritone sings
                                                                      Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon, the “moon”
                                          in his throat darker than the shade Nick Drake could reach.

IV.
There are two adjectives.
“Tall” twice. “Pink” 18 times.


                                                                                                                                         D.
                                                                                     S gets sick with the virus, isolates.
                                           I stop taking walks, lean my forehead on the door between.

V.
Common associations with the word “pink” include:
joy, affection, the flush of good health.

A “pink moon” refers to a full moon reflecting blossoming flowers.
His tender tenor foreboding, Nick Drake may have meant the song as a suicide note. 


                                                                                                                                           E.
                             When my father took his own life, I returned home after his funeral
                                to find a garden lit with unanticipated buds. My father was better
                         at tending to other humans, and the flowers were perhaps a last cough                         of wit. His note reminded me to love people. I saw it written and I saw it say.

VI.
I kneel and lean my forehead on the wood and hinges that separate us.
I kneel and lean my forehead on the ground.
Pink moon is on its way.

                                                                                                                                           F.
                                             At length, S recovers; at greater length, my distress wanes.
                                                                         There’s more music he has to play for me.


VII.
With quiet voice, a bright bloom

                                                                                                                                          G.
                                                                                               from healing lungs, he sings.