Music of the Universe

“I’m making music, Mom,” you say. “I wish I could hear it,” I reply. “Just listen,” you say. And I do.

As I walk through the darkness of a pre-dawn morning, I open myself to the music of the Universe. A light rain taps a soft military tattoo at my feet. In the distance, I hear the steel-drum boom of shunting rail cars, and a motorcycle roars by, its gears whining upwards like a Fender guitar in heat.

“Where are you my boy?” I whisper. The reply is instant. “Right here beside you, Mom.”

In a back alley, an old whirly-gig nailed to a fence post clicks madly, rusty arms pinwheeling as it turns into the wind. It reminds me of the metronome that kept you on beat as you learned guitar so many years ago. I smile thinking of your first reluctant performance. Dad and I begged you to play Hotel California. It was not your style. But, we insisted. There you were, 15 years old, in the kitchen sullenly playing the Eagles, while Dad and I belted out the lyrics. You finished and told us you hoped we were happy because you would never play it again. We barely heard, so great was the euphoria at having our own personal rock concert delivered by our amazing son.

The dog and I disappear into a ravine. As the day begins to lighten, songbirds break into a sleepy chorus. It’s soon drowned out by the gravel-voiced ravens and the shrieks of the magpies. “More your style,” I say, remembering the punk and experimental music you loved to perform. How many times did you come for Sunday dinner, your voice reduced to a croak after shredding your vocal cords at a show the previous night?

As I emerge from the forested area, I think of you dragging a corroded barrel from the river valley down busy streets to your apartment. The neighbours thought you were nuts. But you didn’t care because it made such a beautiful sound when you drummed on it. As beautiful as those created in the experimental music classes you took at university, where students composed symphonies with rocks and sticks, paper bags and children’s toy pianos. Magical.

You were magical. You were the magic in my world. I stop on the sidewalk. “You are the magic in my world.” I feel you smile. The day has begun. I hear the rhythmic whoosh-whoosh of rush hour traffic ebbing and flowing like an eternal sea.