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Time on Water by Robert Gibbons




The Little Phrase


I remember a long work week, feeling the relief of Friday. Dusk draped everything in heavy light. I noted the swabbies on a wooden raft washing the outside of the luxury liner, Odyssey, down to a plate-clean blue. The Amethyst Kriti headed out after emptying its hold of oil. A ton of activity in Boston Harbor. Then a miraculous image. I'm sure no one on the ferry noticed, but me. At the far end of the parking lot next to the Federal Courthouse a white rectangle placed on the black bumper of the red cab of a huge crane turned out to be a sheet of music with the akimbo slant of the limbs of the violinist standing to the side, playing. Although I heard nothing but the engines' groan, it was as if the little phrase of the Vinteuil sonata, which the reader never really gets to hear in Proust, floated across the water as a color, as a tactile vibration, soundlessness only an alerted skin could interpret, & turn the inaudible body language into music.


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