Meditating on a Marimba

08 Jul

A gradual hush falls as the lights go down in the recital hall.  A marimba is illuminated center stage and on it are four mallets in pairs, handles crossed. In the hall’s darkness, this image charms and anticipation grows. Then, as silence descends, a performer appears. Our applause is tentative at first, but grows as we remember our responsibility. No one really knows this player, or what to expect, but we want to be polite. The performer strides forward, but stops about three feet behind the marimba and acknowledges the applause with a deep bow, hands on knees. His torso straightens, but he lowers his head once more, resting chin on chest. His arms hang loosely at his sides and his shoulders rise in gentle response to a deep breath that swells his breast. And the audience grows quieter.

His shoulders relax, his head rises to face us and we see that his eyes are closed. He slowly opens them and moves towards the marimba.  Head lowered, he contemplates the mallets. With the precision of a diamond cutter, the mallets are picked up one pair at a time and placed within his fingers, just so. Satisfied, he takes one step backwards, lowers his arms to his sides and, after another deep breath with eyes closed, he raises the mallets, steps forward and hovers over the marimba, the mallets swimming above the instrument in curiously sensual circles that come closer and closer to the bars. What has he done? What will he do?

The silence and anticipation are finally resolved. The first notes fill the hall. They have all the charm of acne.


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