bird on a wire: on Lionel Loueke and art

Have you ever seen that one bird up on a hot wire? He smiles and nods his head, and you’ve not a guess at what he’s feeling in his feet. If other birds land nearby, they tip a feather, like – yeah, man, I know what you’re saying – but they don’t.

Who knows the pleasure a bird feels clinched to the clicks and pops we pull through the lines? No one knows, but we still agree with the pleasure. 

The night I saw The Lionel Loueke Trio, he was  a bird smiling, tapping is feet like all he faced was the wind. He was humbly pleased at what jazz could do. 

We were murmuring in our seats, had had a good dinner, expected nothing of birds or Africa or spirit fire, and when his mouth touched the microphone, I froze. I didn’t want to move a muscle, like I had just walked into someone in a secret place, and I was enjoying the faces one was making to God. 

I held my breath. I used a beverage napkin for the corner of my eye. 

I do not choose to listen to jazz at home. I’m usually more granola/grungy than that, but we had to hear it again. So we bought it and brought it home.

Saturday was so vibrant that blue pulled in through the screens. It was breezy and warm, and we played it. We played Lionel Loueke in the hallway, and it was loud.

My 1 yo Baby Ian stopped where he was with his first impression, and then he bent up and down and up and down, and he shook his head, not to say No but to say Yes; he agreed with the music.

I was dancing in the hall, and there was no yesterday and no old self  – only the present two of us dancing and smiling, we on our own wires. Then Ian stopped and walked to the stereo on the tallboy and reached up to it. He made the gimme hands and arms and sounds and wanted to hold it, and I love that we can’t hold it. I whirled him up onto my swaying motherhip, and we laughed. 

So much good in this life, if we can hold it (bear it, even, within our frames) wisps away as fast as it came, and that is where art is born, when we take its picture and write it down, where the jazz comes in and gives the unnamable moments a sound, an imprint, another sense with which to remember.


About me


rambling (wo)man
April 05, 2013
2 Ways to Make the World More Beautiful this Christmas
December 06, 2012
Mother – your art, your Letters, your photographs
March 12, 2012
A Mother: A Curator
March 09, 2012
September 20, 2011
Sara Sophia Jingle
November 10, 2010
Christian Pointillism
July 01, 2010
Vitamin D for the Memory: a reading
April 13, 2010
When Peace Like a River, When Sea Billows Roll – a rock home companion
January 25, 2010


Reply March 9, 2009

I love the visual of the bird on a wire. You captured (as perfectly as could be done with words alone) the essence of those untouchable, unnameable, fleeting moments where our senses fill up and spill over with the good.
Methinks this post was too delicious for a Monday morning! :-)

Jo@Mylestones’s last blog post..Who says you can't use your beach toys year round?

Emily M
Reply March 9, 2009

I have to disagree with Jo@Mylestones...this is EXACTLY what I needed on a Monday morning. Such great writing and wonderful music, too.

Reply March 9, 2009

I'm rushing through my morning, ticking off my To-Do List, trying to pull my grumpy boy through his school work, and your writing felt just like someone wiped the frowny lines off my forehead and made me stop. And listen. Thank you for the moment. :)

BlueCastle’s last blog post..1 Year Blogoversary - Giveaway!

Shannon M.
Reply March 9, 2009

Mornin's over, but just getting to you. Exactly what I needed on a Monday AFTERNOON! I miss being able to dance around with a baby on my hip. I sat and cried through Martina McBride's "In My Daughter's Eyes" the other day -- not because of the words (that's enough), but because the first time I ever heard it, I was whirling around the house with my baby girl and singing cheek to cheek. Sniff.

Shannon M.’s last blog post..Beauty Buzz: Ask Amy about online favorites

kari beth
Reply March 9, 2009

hi! i found your blog through brooke's and have been following for awhile now (love your writing)! i just had to comment on this post! my husband and i saw lioneld louke on valentine's day...and all i could write about him was that he was very "talented" and "interesting". i had know idea how to describe his art in words! you did a fantastic job! i really wish we would have purchased his cd! he was so fun...and so great!

kari beth’s last blog post..hmmm...

Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience
Reply March 9, 2009

"So much good in this life, if we can hold it (bear it, even, within our frames)..."

I don't think our frames can bear it. I think that's why we fall on our knees. Worship is the only way through this life with so much Good.

You write and I hurt inside, that ache for Home, I think.

Thank you, Amber... thank you.

All's grace,

Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience’s last blog post..How to Experience Actual Presence of God

Reply March 9, 2009

you know beautiful.

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Reply March 9, 2009

girl, you can w.r.i.t.e.!
i love the music.
and i love that which we can't hold, too. music, and love, and friendship, and memories.
and emails!
(thanks for the email!)

patty’s last blog post..Day 4: Let It Snow

Reply March 9, 2009

I found your blog recently, and stop in regularly. More than regularly, actually:) I read and re-read and read once more to really grasp the truth of what you're writing. You have the most amazing gift to speak into existence the things that my soul knows to be true, but I can't quite form into words. Thanks for sharing that with us. I feel as if I know myself better after reading.

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