July 31, 2007

senses working overtime

MP3: Old Letter Opener (2 mb)

I've just returned from my first visit to Seattle, home of coffee convenience and entitled pedestrians. A cousin was married in a park upon a hill overlooking water and that gorgeous skyline, and it was great to have some small semblance of a family reunion during that festive occasion. However, these things are often laced with a bit of sadness when family members that you'd hope to see at these events are no longer with us, and you feel a large gap where their presence might have been.

My father and his older brother both passed on within the past few years, and they were giant men with giant personalities - Greek gods they'd been called, though their blood was more Jewish than Athenian - so imagining them there was easy, and then disappointing in the light of reality.

Well, sorrow seems to be the standard springboard for creativity, at least that's what I've heard and been told. You wallow around alone in it and then let your feelings out in a beautiful piece of art. And that's where the trouble begins. Sometimes this beautiful thing is just an expression of depression, often conjuring tired imagery that we've all heard a thousand times before. At least that's what usually happens to me in these situations, and why I generally lean toward exploring things (serious or not) from a more whimsical vantage point: I hope to spare us both the cliches of sadness.

That said, there was an outpouring of songs when my father died, and they live in various states of completion and predictability. Here's one about the letter opener I watched him use since I was kid (it had been his father's before him), and which I now count as one of my most valuable possessions. The noisy and quickly recorded mp3 file can be found at the top of this blog entry.


I'm looking at an old letter opener
It's got to be 45 or 50 years old
The handle has your father's name engraved upon it
It's made of silver but in my opinion it's gold

The handle's kind of worn from your hands upon it
I can feel the imprint of your fingers where they would bend
As you opened up your correspondence with glee or horror
And I'm sure on occasion with some indifference

This was your father's key to the letters
It was your key too for a while
Now it's mine, and I'll keep it here with me
To open the letters that'll never come from you again.

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