Jazz on the Radio
Jen Michalski


Makes me think of an old woman, a sack of elephant skin heavy on the sticks of her fingers, the bending trunk of her spine, a white laundry pile on the shiny floor of the cold apartment. Floors that soften the hard crack of light that arrives, like an overbearing, impatient son, through the window. It's time to take you to the doctor. It's time to take you to the bank. It's time to meet your God. Why on earth aren't you ready yet? Tea from a thrice-used tea-bag, too hot to drink that morning, sits cold, sallow, old phlegm, on her return. She reheats it again. Her eyes study the teapot, calibrating an instant that always happens too quickly.


When you left. When anybody leaves anybody. How can one piece of a jigsaw fit but not the other?


The other night, when I woke up and it was snowing outside. When I realized that everything will happen with or without me. Season after season could fall into my bed, burying me in leaves, rain, pollen, snow. Season after season could collect dormant in the hollow of my pelvis, awaiting a birth of past.


The public library. Pouring over copies of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday records in the sunny room with the old periodicals while in my teens. Going home and listening, with big earphones, a plastic pod on each ear, thinking that the cocoon of notes that grew between my ears were the first heard by anyone, anywhere. I walked with a swagger until college, armored by the secret history of music.


Peanuts television programs, like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas. The song "Linus and Lucy," my first exposure (and subsequent love of) jazz.


Public television fundraising drives.


Crappy coffee (aka Starbucks). Those John Mayer CDs they sell at the counter, alongside Chet Baker's greatest hits. The Chet Baker stack is always full, unsold.