Sarah Vaughan

4 11 2009


Sarah Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990)

Little Sarah stood at the top. Of the stairs. In her Sunday dress. Come on down, little darling. We need you. Little Sarah remained still. The stairs were steep. Her lip was quivering. But the walls kept whispering. Don’t be afraid.  We need you now. At another time. In Birmingham. A bomb was placed. Next to the rectory. 4 little girls. In the choir. Stopped singing.

The Apollo. In Harlem. Mid-afternoon. A shy little girl stepped onto the stage. The hall was filled. With cigarette smoke and laughter. At another hall. George C. Wallace swore. Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever! Little Sarah sat at the piano. The little girl in the yellow smoke. Sang about being humbled. By love.

Martin stepped up to the microphone. And fell into a dream. Dylan grabbed his guitar and coat. And walked off the Ed Sullivan Show. Sarah sat mesmerized. In front of the television set. Kennedy’s future met his past. And on live television. Oswald turned toward the camera. And was murdered.

Afraid to look up. At the strangers. In the shadows. To listen. To the voices in the darkened rooms. Afraid not to join. With the angels in her songs. Afraid of the dusk. Afraid of the dawn. Another cigarette. Fingers so yellow. With nicotine. Afraid to be alone. The silence used to hold her like a mother.

Fear is another lover. You can’t depend upon.

Lips aflame with lyrics. The jangled flutter. Of the music. The band playing in the attic. Or a small club in the Village. The drums kept everyone in place. The stand-up bass a heart beat. Oh, lets waltz. On the bare floor. Through the cool darkness. Lets milk the stillness. And dance forever.

Maybe there were days. Filled with laughter, friends, and joy. Maybe there were rainy afternoons. With nothing much to do. Another cigarette. An umbrella. Another man. Dieing of lung cancer. Ventilators. Chemotherapy. And other jazz standards.



One response

4 11 2009

i’m really impressed by you writing.
And that picture. nice

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