A Dream

I had a sweet dream in the wee hours of the morning.

In the dream, I lived in a close-knit extended family that moved around a lot: a traveling performance troupe, perhaps. The time had come for me and a younger brother to experience a rite of passage peculiar to our family.

The patriarch of the clan asked me to stick out my tongue, and he pinched the end of it pretty hard — though not too hard — between his thumb and forefinger. He released it, and then instructed me to hold my tongue lightly against my upper lip with my mouth open, and wait. He moved to my brother.

After a few moments, I was overcome with an urge to spit, but what came out was a word, followed by many more, in no language I knew. The others in the extended family were delighted, for they knew of the language, though none now spoke it: it had not been spoken for many generations. It was a rare gift: the language was ancient, and it was sung, not spoken. I sang poetry in this language, and while I had no idea what the words meant, I could hear the poetry itself — the rhythm, the rhyme scheme. And, of course, the music, unlike any I had heard before, but beautiful.

The dream shifted, and I found myself singing with others: glorious harmonies, complex weaving of solo voices. An ancient hymn from an age when the world was newer.

As ever, when I woke there was only the memory of the music, not the music itself. I’ve stopped weeping with frustration when this happens, because I’ve learned to trust that the music remains within me, and eventually finds its way onto the page.

I look forward to that day.

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