Melissa Matthewson

Draw Two Circles, So Joined

In a boy’s hands, a trumpet, played to the open window at an hour of seven. I can’t tell you the particular bounce of the notes, or the technique used to craft the song, the scale, the high register of tune. All I know is the sound, the push of brass into the night, the wind of it really, that held me there on a narrow sidewalk in Vermont, a far stretch from my home, a place now distanced, almost a memory. I noticed the artichokes, and the sky, of course, bursting into a stream of color in moods of the sun. I sipped my beer, a cold can of hops and grain, swatted the mosquitoes from my arms, pretended the boy with the trumpet could not see me lingering on the concrete, my sandals off and tossed to the side, the pavement still warm. I faked playing with my phone so he could not tell how I listened.

There’s so much to be said about home: how the nest box sets on the fence and the swallows station on the power line, their triangular alignment over the comfrey and fescue, the orchard grass overrun with seed already. It’s June and the orange poppy with plum veins running up the petal’s skin unfolds to reveal a bud of stamens like a clenched fist, a little girl’s tight heart. I walk around my yard, barefoot on the earth, watching for the thistles we don’t weed. I think, I have no boys with trumpets for neighbors, I have no song but the everyday sound—wheels on gravel, children laughing, a tractor’s distant rumble, the dog’s last growl, altogether a chorus important and worthy of remembering.

I return to the trumpet house again and again over the coming days. It’s the possibility of transformation that pulls me there, the chance to experience an incongruous placement in time, home and not home, and of the dissonance of this predicament, drawing toward something while also leaving it behind. We must become two selves at once in places we don’t know, while we reach for that one thing, whether trumpet or garden, which holds us together. I think to know something of this pull and tug as well as the sound the trumpet boy makes, the hesitation of the player as he learns his craft, the drawn out tube of vibration, the hum, the buzz, the goddamned beauty of this funneled harmonic chrome: it’s a consummation of melody I want to remember in times of dislocation.

Standing there listening the second time, I wished to abandon my things to the sidewalk, walk up the bricked path and settle into the rocking chair beneath the window that faces the street. Watch the birds. Sip. Rock. Listen while the children count up the field across the way with their soccer ball and youth, the house garden growing taller with dill, the fronds something like wild hair on strange people, and everything coming together into the pitch and slide of beat thrown by the boy inside, all brass, all high and low extension, all compensation to a fixed harmony and beauty of contrasts, that almost, just almost, cannot be named.


Melissa Matthewson lives in the Applegate Valley of southwestern Oregon. She is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is an Assistant Essays Editor at the The Rumpus. Her essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Bellingham Review, River Teeth, Defunct, Pithead Chapel, Numéro Cinq, Under the Gum Tree, and Terrain.org among others.

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