A Rhapsody in Roses

For as long as I can remember, I have heard music of the soul. When I was younger I thought everyone could hear it. I would drag my mother to the garden and watch her expression as I told her in my high, childlike voice to listen to the flowers around us. I would lift them to her face until they were jingling in my ears and pounding at my head and still she would gaze at me with a bemused look on her face as I willed her to listen. Finally she would shake her head and in a dubious voice, impress upon me how lovely they sounded—humouring a child’s fantasy.

My mother is an orchestra. My mother is a dancing violin, with her prim, pointed nose and her golden blonde hair. My mother flits around the house like the bzz-bzz buzzing bees. The bees are rattling, shaking, jangling tambourines, but my mother is an orchestra. I hear her from all corners of the house, her cellos singing and her violas humming in time with her rhythmic steps. My mother dances a waltz with the broom and curtsies to the duster as she swirls it over the windowsill. Her laugh is high and melodic, like the ding-ding-ding of church bells.

My father is a deep, brassy saxophone. He is a lightning bolt of bluesy rhythm, cascading through the house and into my ears. My father sneaks up on my mother and covers her eyes and his saxophone laughs a low, strong melody. Their music is the most beautiful when the saxophone sings along with the strings, both blending together as one.  My father is a tall, broad man and yet he moves with the grace of a feather, tiptoeing up to my sleeping figure in a dark, dark room. He never understands how I always know it is he, how I can always wake up and kiss him on the nose at the sound of his quiet, harmonious tune.

My home is a haven for music. My mother dances with light, high steps, twirling in her full dresses as her eyes close and her body sways steadily. My father plucks at the piano keys and his fingers, so heavy and wide, pull strands of beauty out of the depths of the instrument—high, soaring symphonies and low melodies that broaden into powerful, commanding concertos. My father sits at the piano every evening and his hands sketch lyrical tunes into the atmosphere. My mother sings a wordless harmony or picks up her faded acoustic guitar and together they fill the air with their music. And then, of course, there is me.

Lark. This is my name—a songbird, a musician of the natural world. Larks are piccolos; their hearts are filled with joy and they flute their contentment in high-flying bursts of enchantment. I have a hidden gift, but unlike my namesake I do not share it with the world. My music is in others—for I can hear my mother’s violin, my father’s saxophone, and the music of all the people who bustle about their daily lives with no melody to guide them, save for the ones in their souls. These melodies are the ones only I can hear; and not just the people’s, but all of the wonders of life.

The flowers are my favourite. My mother plants them in small pots on the windowsills, and their songs follow me through the house. The honeysuckles are golden bells; the tulips are honking trombones. And the roses—they are the soft, quiet, beautiful harps. The roses dance and soar, swooping in heartrending plunges of tragic splendour so that I have no choice but to stop and listen even as the tears prickle at the corners of my eyes. Their song is ethereal, mesmerising, pulling me into the depths of their stories; and I follow the delicate riffs, the whispering ostinatos, the lilting leaps of musical faith. The roses have been broken time and time again, and yet their petals bloom all the more beautiful because of their invisible scars.

If the music of the people makes me embrace the wonder and light of living in this world, then the music of the roses makes me realise that sometimes the only place for the light to enter is through the darkness of the wounds in our souls.