Pushing the stroller through rough paths of wood chips,
we pause en route to the park to watch the band set up.
This is your idea: you jab a chubby thumb at the stage
as if it’s the “x” on a treasure map, the only place
we were ever meant to go. So we make camp in a grassy knoll,
your round eyes and ready ears gulping greedily the energy and din.
This scene isn’t polished or smooth, but a symphony of false starts
and discordant sighs and un-tuned strings that half-warm hands
coax toward clumsy harmony. Notes are dropped, sharps are missed,
tempos jump and shift, guitar solos drown under the bassline’s rhythmic thrum.
There are so many ways to get it all wrong,
it’s a miracle that anything like a song
swells up from this life at all. I’m ready to keep walking but you won’t give up yet,
earnestly beating your palms together as the musicians start fresh, again and again.
This is practice. This is rehearsal. They fiddle with knobs, strain against reverb,
cuss faulty microphones, but then—
suddenly, it’s there:
a solitary drum
a sigh-silencing crescendo,
a melody in the air.
They don’t hear you clapping. They don’t see us watching. They only sing,
and then keep singing
because singing feels right, and there just isn’t time
Tracie Renee Amirante Padal’s words have won awards; appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals, and international anthologies (including Stories of Music, The Official Poets’ Guide to Peace, and Embers & Flames); and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. When not writing or chasing after her preschooler, Tracie fosters a love for literature as a librarian in suburban Chicago.