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Jazz song

by Sarah Frost


The saxophone segues into a room
simmering with strangers: its notes are bricks,
constructing shelter.

Leaning into a bench corner, he
swallows down a melancholy beer,
lets his eye slide from under his worn checked cap.
His gaze elides the blonde woman at the next table,
a hen, clucking into her small daughter’s shoulders,
to rest on the broad hips of the jazz singer on stage.
She belts him back out into a haze of
cigarette smoke and saudade*; another week gone
and still the loneliness, sour as the last sip from the bottle,
whose icy mouth does not kiss you back.
She is nearly as voluptuous as the double bass the young man
next to her plucks, the spotlight stroking its cider-coloured wood.
His forehead glistens with the sincerity of sweat.

Two Rastafarians, their tied-back braids opening
into fine-boned faces, embrace their girlfriends,
sit down close to the band,
as if they were sunflowers and the music hot
enough to make them tangle skywards.
The proprietor shuts the door against the cold.

The black-plated flute offers up fragments,
syncopating into a recurring rhythm
that sustains a resignation, part of the whole.


* Saudade has been described as a ‘vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future’