“Do you sing?” my friend asked me.
We were on his porch in the morning, and he had just sung a few songs for me to dance to at my request. Down By the River, something like Give Me Jesus, and a Gate Gate Parasamgate.
He spoke to me of many things: pottery his mom gave to him, from Algeria. His dad’s 56 patents with petrochemicals (plastics) and dad’s deathbed, “You looked at the big picture. You were right.” The choir at the church was full of great musicians. The best jazz musician he knows in Montana–his wife died a year and a half ago.
This farmhouse is beautiful, and they said the morning birds would be loud in the tree outside the guest quarters. But the birds were a medium amount of bird noise, I would say.
We tried to be very quiet, getting up in the night to pee outside in the grass, and entering the main house in the early morning, not knowing if the dog would be surprised and freak out on us, biting us. But the dog stayed asleep.
Bengali and Sanskrit
“Yes,” I said, answering his question. “I was in the choir at the Hindu church I went to, so I sing mostly in Bengali and Sanskrit. English too. A little German…”
By the time I got to German, he wasn’t listening anymore. Something else had caught his attention. The song that’s most important to me lately is the Beautiful Chorus song My Body which is an affirmational chant.
- My body is fly.
- My body is beautiful
- My body is bold.
- My body is mine.
Just that sung four or five times does me well. I wanted to sing it for my friend and explain how it’s a song for survivors, for people who were treated as children like our bodies belonged to other people, for people that culture called wrong and ugly for being too fat or plain or whatever.
Fly is a special word I think of as a Black word, sacred to certain Black people of a certain time period, meaning exalted, important, the best. So it’s an honor to use that word, as someone who is not Black. I speak that word as an honored guest.
Or maybe I’m incorrect, and that word is everyone’s now. I’d be happy to be wrong about that.
what I wish I’d said
When my friend asked, “Do you sing?” I wish I had said something more like…
“Yes, I sing in my own way.”
It’s kind of like how my respected elder friend in the desert says, “I’m going to pray in my Native way–you can pray in your own way.” Then he speaks to God in a language where God is Uppa.
I don’t sing like a radio person, like a choir person, or maybe like you, but I sing in the way my bodymind needs to sing. So it might not impress anyone, like my dancing isn’t to impress. Just the truth of my body, swaying and reaching and stretching through space, like it needs to.