Sure there’s smoke. Yup, it’s right there on the nose. But it’s the kind of smoke that you need to focus on. In time I determine that it’s smoke of a dozen lemons, each hollowed out with a dull oyster knife and stuffed with flower petals, then sewn shut with pig leather laces and jute, only to be set on a pyre. Or perhaps it’s better to say that the nose is a hecatomb offered to the gods, but the animals led to this sacrifice are waxy crayon drawings of mastodons and aurochs, all bent in postures of vitality and insolence. But above all there’s perfumed nut oils extracted from the skulls of magical whales, pierced with harpoon shafts sturdier than a hardened heart.
The mouth is more mysterious than I could have imagined. It’s got tangy assertion, but a tremulous core. Which is to say, it’s lithe and tricky. There are cut celery pieces left in a jar in the fridge long after the ambition to eat healthier food abates. Sea foam conveying crackers to a tiny eddy where otters go to determine what games they will play. Mermaid tails slap against lobster traps in a difficult, 11/8 syncopation. Eventually the interplay settles into low-register seriousness. Consider Pepper Adams and Gerry Mulligan in a baritone sax battle royale for the ages.
The finish is longer than a Monday. Except that it’s a good Monday, when the snows have closed the schools, the streets are empty, and a purple silence becalms the world. Here the flakes fall in such a way that the street lamps cannot reach down enough to illuminate the roads but content themselves instead by creating round light clouds mounted atop iron stalks. Turning from the window, you see the crackling hearth consume your worries and carry them up the chimney. If your soul is a ship, you are in the captain’s quarters. Aphrodite and her blushing maidens come forward to write permanently upon your heart its deepest wish.
On the scale of songs partially in 11/8 time–
The Ardbeg 21 is Here Comes the Sun–One of George Harrison’s most loved songs, this is a song of anticipation told from the perspective of gratitude. “Sun, sun, sun / Here it comes.”