For S

If labor is the province of the body maybe work is the province of the flesh… the flesh we have that breathes together
 —Fred Moten

Everything to be seen has already been seen           Now the body must act.

       a body, that is, moved not to labor but to work

When Keith Jarrett sat at his overhauled Steinway in October of ‘98, he had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and he was in love with his second wife, Rose Anne, to whom the unplanned album, The Melody at Night, With You, would be dedicated. To say that it was unplanned is not to suggest a lack of preparedness, but to emphasize that which only such a lack can prepare one for. Now behold, a body strained yet animated by the essential instinct of the lover: to speak the fullness of feeling.

In the fourth track, “Someone to Watch Over Me,’’ this fullness finds not a peak but a hollow. A low and severe timbre. Reaching all the way back to Gershwin’s original, Jarrett takes the standard into a territory whose contours—longing, sadness, hope—are sharpened rather than dulled by restraint & elision. A slurring speech

       in which we hear

                                                                                   & recognize

                                             what overwhelms                        

More plea than question / the voice in which the lover might ask / will you stay?

Suppose that in listening closer, the lover’s voice interrupts, by necessity, the voice of the critic and the voice of reportage. Suppose that in listening closer, one acquires the vagrant fluency of the implicated, and must, in the narrow cubits of confession, relinquish all claims to an objective position. Surrounded & surrendered now not by or to an audience but by and to the face one knows well—or perhaps not well—which itself suggests skill, but sweetly, the way a tongue knows anything as an accumulation of sensations. And in this accumulation, the tongue, unbridled, crosses the distance between the verb to hold and its object. That is to say, the tongue, unbridled, learns to speak in other tongues.

What Jarrett insists upon is a conspiratorial grammar, a mode of articulation restricted to the most intimate of addresses, a grammar in which what is spoken is spoken to enact and confirm what is shared:

A grammar in which the wish for respite from one’s body

toward the body of the beloved might be spoken

near the pitch of



In which one might say to the other:

  Look at me. We have not yet been found.

             The shade of the tree remains

and the noise of the river will block out our sounds.

Tell me what you have always wanted to say.

Tell me again about blackberries.

Dark as the day’s first hour.

Dark as the inside of something.

Dark, even, as you.

How many did you gather that day

Bewitched by their plush and plenty, before you tumbled?

I could have told you that even sweetness has weight. No one tells us such things before

we have to know them. That we can partake of what the sun has blessed. That no rot will come of our touch. I wish I was with you then to see your body in desire and in the surprise

of desire. No one tells us such things,  

                that we can want more than we have,                        and be dizzy

with wanting.

Look at me.

We have not yet been found.

Feel your body---------------------------------------------------------------------------------enter into rest

Do not fear its quiet.                  

Labor alone does not dignify us.  

Stretch your arm this way. Tonight it will bear no weight but its own.

Stay with me.

What else do you remember?

The deep bruise of the sky before rain.

It was always then that you reached for the beloved’s body,

and leaning into it,

Saw how much bigger it was than whatever you feared.

A planet of flesh.                                                                      The audacity of such size.

But it shocked you also, did it not, that you could fit completely anywhere that was not a coffin. You can tell me the truth. I too am never prepared to live. Tell me. No one can hear you here but me.

We have time. Look at me.

We have not yet been found.


You say you have learned to keep what you love beyond your reach.

My sweetness, I cannot fault such prudence.


And we can admit it, can’t we?

To carry anything in this body,

Is often & already to forfeit it.

You can say the words.

I will not shrink from them.

Look at me. We are closer now    

                                     than any two living things can be. Look at me.

We have not yet been found.

I am singing to you                                /                         what songs I know.

Permit me this foolishness.

Permit me this doubt in any power who would claim us.  

We are not without injury, it is true. The flame and the fang have reached us.

We are proof of spite and sling and shackle.

I do not ask you to forget.

I ask only that you

       drink deep

       from this jug

     I hold over your


Deny drought what it came to take.

No, not a sip. Take the long gulps of the unburdened.

Savor the cleansing / and what space it makes / for more of itself.

Smack your lips wantonly.

No one but me can see this loss of decorum.

Tire now of grace, won’t you?

         Have we not made do, so far, without it?

I am aware / nothing done here will make news / we have begun no wars and brokered no peace / we are famed for nothing / we are neither first nor last at the line.

The historian’s eye

will not descend

to these depths,

Surrounded as we are by no greater circumstance than ourselves, what have the books of kings to do with us?

But listen,                   . I touch your earlobe & mark its presence. Your chin, present. Left eye, present. The two scars over the breastbone, present. Knob of backbone, present.

I am the record and remembrance of you. To the fact of me, you bear witness. We evidence the other into being    Look at me    Do not fear their forgetting. We have believed that the power to forget is the power to erase. Yet, we are here, no hair unaccounted for and we have still not yet been found. We are closer now than any two living things can be

Look at me.

we are a gathering people

we mass

we merge

we mesh

we mingle

we cling clinch caress cohabit

we surrender to the forces of heft and hold

this way the tremors of grief do not pass through one body

but across a field of bodies on and on                           we are




Let what weeping must happen happen in chorus

Let our noise be the noise of everything breaking

 let nothing break against it

Feel no shame at your guttural cry

Let loose the long lament.

Look at me.

Tire now of grace.

Have we not made do, so far, without it?


Who else but you can know the name I call myself? And on your tongue it is no curse. Say it again. I want to believe it as you do. On your tongue it is all the springs we’ve missed. All the benches waiting for us. All the trees under whose shadow we are yet to lay.

My name in your voice is a house with all the rooms opened to light and there are no doors but welcome and everywhere we roam we are garlanded and our pace is lazy having forgotten the itch to flee and the light continues to be what it is and we continue to be what we are: A goodness from which there can be no straying.      

No, don’t stop. No one can hear you here but me. Have no fear of night raiders. Death squads. Executioners. They too must know weariness. We are beyond even their power. And how could they, if they should look, understand what it is they see enough to forbid it?

Abandon now the field, the desk, and the assembly line

Betray anything called nation

Forsake anything called duty

Exceed the time of timekeepers

Evade the task of taskmasters

Accept the charge of insubordination

Accept the charge of recalcitrance

Accept the fate of those deemed inoperable

Faulty within any premise for production

Refuse with me the call to order

Refuse with me the call to dine

In the gilded halls of our enemies

Let us, then, together lay fallow

Burnished with the uses

We alone find for each other

Meticulous, even now, at our garden

The hydrangeas in need of pruning

And our dead in need of burying

So many newly slain & still warm

Come, my love.    Let us work

    Give to me the work of your hands…