A Woman’s Laughter [by Charles Coe]

On a recording of the Bill Evans trio,

Live at the Village Vanguard,

late June ’61, during a slow, haunting version

of “I Loves You Porgy,” at the quietest moment,

in the background, soft but clear, 

a woman’s laughter.

At first the sound seems jarring, even sacrilegious.

But then again a jazz club’s not a concert hall,

listeners in polite rows, knees together,

waiting to cough in the space between movements.

Jazz is cash registers and clinking glasses

and chairs scraping the floor.

And besides it’s a pleasant laugh, full of promise.

Easy to see her hand reach out to rest on her

companion’s arm. Easy to catch the whiff of lilac or lavender . . . 

Always, so many worlds within worlds.

In one world,

A man who follows Evans from gig to gig

sits at the bar alone, transfixed,

ice melting in the forgotten drink.

In one world,

The bartender counts his cash

while dreaming of the waitress’s embrace.

In one world,

A woman’s laughter.

In one world,

Evan’s leans over the keys, oblivious to all

but the slow heartbeat bass,

the splash of brushes on cymbal and snare,

fingers poised for what seems like forever

before they settle gently over the final chord. 

                               — from Memento Mori: Poems by Charles Coe

In addition to Memento Mori: poems, Charles Coe is the author of two previous volumes of poetry, both with Leapfrog Press: All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents (2013) and Picnic on the Moon (1999). He’s also the author of Spin Cycles, a novella published by Gemma Media. Charles is the winner of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light in 2014.” He teaches poetry in the MFA programs at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Coe is a jazz vocalist who has performed and recorded with musicians throughout New England. 


Related Stories


Go to Source
Author: The Best American Poetry