Your opalescent eyes drown in the silent brown of his evacuated skin so that he wears your melancholy like the second hand clothes of a new born. He is as much of you, as you are of us. His language is caplocked yet without sound. Write him into the fire of your existence, for he has burned in waiting. You know how to sign. Yes. No tie for a native tongue that a Cinnamon sweet kiss could not release.
Honey of truth, blood of your soul, you’ve always known him. Remember how he held you once for what was forever. You embraced him and erased Gregorian time. There’ve been other lost boys but not like this one, swimming in the rivers of your fertile subconscious, and climbing your mountains of longing.
Woman of substance and sequins, find him in the seven caves of your intuition. Reveal him. Paint him as you know him to be. As if he was made of wonder and sacred flesh. Your fallen man of mirth and unusual incense, broken into pieces of love to fill the cracks in your labyrinth of secrets and hurts. You wear his deathless life, like a vintage dress of freedom. Shadow lover, he is yours to claim in the Moonlight of day.
That a poet is at the mercy of his muse, and that my love for her can not save me from the choice she makes to hide from us. What we were will always be before us. She will never be free of the moisture of me. I marked her for alltime when I bit into the neck of her soul to engrave my name inside her.
Some years ago, I spent a considerable amount of pounds to get my hands on a first pressing of this record. It wasn’t the first nor the last time I would splash out for Aretha rarities. I spent beyond my means on many occasions for Aretha records, and I didn’t regret it because I loved her. Its a perculiar thing to say, because my relationship with her was strictly through her music. But I know why I loved her and always will. It goes without saying that she was set apart when she emerged into mainstream consciousness. She was of a tribe and community but yet she was different. Unique. Singular in her genius. She was the Mount Olympus of popular music singers in what is sometimes referred to as the Rock era. Her sound was and is both ancient and future, so the era which she is associated with, could not hold her captive.
I have been reading two books about Aretha in recent months. One is about her album, Amazing Grace, and the other is about the warts and all of her life. I put down one of them and stuck a pile of books on top. I’m slowly advancing through the other. I recognise people in Aretha. People that I love but who will forever remain something of a mystery. There is no book that can be written that will quell the intrigue or reveal her more precisely than her voice and rendering of songs. Lady Soul and her voice belong to the mystery and the wonder of faith in the divine. God gifted we often say. Death is a mystery as is life. And so is love. And so is God. When Job cried out in indignation, he was confronted by that mystery. So it is love and God, the mystery of mysteries that I hear when I listen beyond the pain and pleasure of death and life in her voice. Life affirmed. Resurrected from death. The pleasure coiled around the pain. The sensuality of life. The fragility. The indomitability of the spirit that hollers. The soul that bleeds. Loud. She resembles my mother in a lot of those late 60s to mid 70s images captured by publicity departments and press. Old photographs are things of wonder. And my mother’s face in her youth is as beautiful, vibrant and full of possibilities as Aretha’s voice. All that history is interwoven with all that future, which we can only live to know. Aretha Now. That was not just an album title. Taking heed of a moment on a journey that is still ahead. With hope in God.
And while we’re on the subject of life and the virtues within this mortal coil, living through all senses, and awake to the wonders our eyes breathe in to exhale the fumes of melancholy and her lover’s kiss on the hand that held you back from the possibility of escaping death, a persistent aroma that lingers around you and confides with the fears you try to hide in your past’s pocket, it took less than a moment to find your hope transfixed, with your doubts swept away by the sheltering wind that clothed you when your love was naked. You hear it too.