REVERBERATIONS

"When you gave me that first kiss, I thought I would faint; everything went blank and I could barely hold the lamp that was lighting your way out…."

-Clara Schumann, about her husband Robert.


When I play music I dive into a world that is abstract and naïve, that scatters rays through the stained-glass window of my heart. I comb the raindrops of a Bach meditation and hang a moon on Chopin sky; I bow on a blank, metaphysical stage while light needles past my skin. The world then paints itself in mauve tears, weeping beige, aching indigo, colours of a mystical poet's dance; and it climaxes to that final and savage cadenza, and I rise – I transcend! – beyond the transitory, beyond phoenix's wings.

Indeed, I am being and non-being. My world is the piano and I constantly make love to this lover and perpetuator of my soul. And so I desire this ecstatic music, even though my guardian has locked me in a snow-globe of the unreal, away from men's eyes and wild hearts.

This is an empty house. There are no doors, only glass walls, and a garden encloses the crystalline prison from the world. On rainy afternoons, I sit by the piano and move ghost fingers over the keys; I savour the lushness of red roses, the silence between words. Have I told you what this means to me, the thin line between being and nothingness – this moment of existence, this moment of ecstasy? I watch my reflection flicker like a phantom in candlelight, and the music paints me a portrait of a trembling girl with breakable waist and water-veined eyes, shut behind glass doors, enclosed within a garden of frost. The music paints me a Faustian tale of a soul that is no longer mine, but transplanted within the abstract deaths of ecstasy. Oh, I have sold my soul to silence. It seduces me as it seduced Beethoven, who drew music out of even the fiery grave… that place of births, that place of longing.

On these days I lift my eyes to the garden outside, wrapped beneath its perpetual veil of frost: ferns and snapdragons, pines and ice-lilies. In the mornings the frost becomes mist, and roses peek out of their icy shells. When it rains, on occasion, the candles cast finger-shadows that whirl like dervishes on temple walls. There is a painting I once saw called Meditation: three candles sitting on an expanse of shore, ocean in the distance. I close my eyes and hear the sound of waves, the lilting pulse; my music rises, a chorus of stars, shaped against a spacescape of nothingness. I can tell you that I have traveled worlds, lands and continents of the visionary mind and arcane subconscious. Through satin keys I traverse frosted glaciers and nebulae; I climb the majestic peaks of the massive Appassionata and the crystalline fjords of a Scriabin sonata. Time becomes Timelessness, and the sheets of melody roll unchained.

The garden beyond my glass doors is a fairyland buried beneath dormant ice. In the mornings the mists rise, in the evenings the snow shines. When Night comes, it slides deep into my waist like a languorous lover. The muted candlelight dims far into chiaroscuro, and the immense black lid of my piano becomes a funeral bed for lovers to lose and find each other, for vampire lips to meet, enchain, and caress. (I see a swimming movement of arms, an underwater ballet.) I lay myself beneath the coffin-bed in my translucent nightgown, my hair fanning like a banner on the ground, and I throb slowly, slowly, to this newfound sound of silence. I have sold my soul to this music and it claims me in return.

The curtains whisper, white against black night. My gown is soaked.

I become Rapunzel, and I wait for my Prince.

My music (or my silence) comes to me that night in the form of a dark angel, his eyes eclipsing the fiery fire of his darkness. I called him with a nocturne or a whisper fey as tombal leaves. He stripped me beneath the moon, a Chopin's moon that cast shadows over my white flesh; and while the ghosts and fairies watched, he laid me upon the piano and pierced me. He rained passionate kisses down my arms, neck, hands; the bed cut into my back and we danced. We rocked in rhythm as our breaths fogged in the black air. I watched the moon and the snow-garden behind him, as the lights whirl like so many needles and I died.

He possessed me the second night in the garden, among the ice-tipped ferns and roses, an ecstasy and annihilation that tore for the first time a primal melody from my mouth, cleaving like the spear through my maidenhood.

I sold my soul to the piano and I have been losing myself since then. Still I nightly lose myself within a labyrinth of mirrors and glass houses, within the profane acts of love. My mind's eye will transpose to mist-clouds far away, to voluptuous lands beyond my soul's (delicious) dying. He strokes me, he hurts me; he rakes my flesh and makes me scream. And always I feel myself dying and pressing to the air, slipping off these glass walls of fairyland fantasy, of white-mountain spires, churches, of black holes.

You are my dream. You are my nightmare. You are so many faces, so many characters, dissonant, atonal, flitting across the sphere of your apocalypse. And then the swimmer's movements of arms and body and face dissolve into flickers behind diffused glass.

And then I am free. I fall into the black hole.

Seasons fly yet my garden outside remains intact in its perpetual museum-wrapping of frost. And with the transformation so, too, does my music change, growing sharp and discordant as our newfound desperation. We leave burning tracks in the snow and glassy tears and jarring symphonies that no longer touch their hearts. When morning comes, I wipe away our love-marks from the cover of the piano and hang my nightgowns in the sun. I run barefoot through the snow; my waist grows thinner, my breaths shorter. I glance at the twisted distortion of a love I once knew, at his sick and debilitating form that, too, is slowly dissolving into the mists.

One day I look in the mirror to see the skeleton of a woman I no longer know, because she has melted into the rain.

One day, I dream that my lover has cut out my tongue and put it in a box and I become a nightingale.

My music that is my phoenix, my release. My music that is my one and only lover. What will I do if this precious snow-globe of our love should shatter, and pierce the unkind sky? Take my soul which has been encased within these walls of glass and gardens of winter. Cut my body into little stars and dangle them in the sky. And bury my singing tongue, my silent tongue, into a black piano.