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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 3, September 2013

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Garry Eaton
Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada


Black Pan

As a favor from a friend in Manhattan, I crash for a few days in a huge, almost empty room downtown, where sweated immigrant women used to toil for the needle trades: hems, two cents; pants cuffs, two cents; shirt collars, two cents! When I let myself in the first afternoon it's late, and I go to sleep soon after on an old sofa against the wall, thinking I'm alone. Then something wakes me sometime after dark. Forty feet away, against a backdrop of high, wide windows without curtains, someone is moving quietly across the floor. As it draws nearer, the figure I can see is a young black man. How did he get in? He stops in front of one window to look down. There is a long pause.

Then, to my complete surprise he takes a flute from his coat and raises it to play. Through the gloom I see its dull silver burnish, his long, thin fingers on the stops, half bare brown arms, an intense, thinly bearded face and wooly head. Thinking himself alone, at one with his instrument in the semi-darkness, he plays so wistfully the notes appear to rise as echoes evoked from vague and distant corners of the room, of the earth. Though fully awake, I'm charmed by the strangeness and novelty of this experience, musical and otherwise. A feeling of wonder, almost of awe, is rising forcefully from an unknown place within that though an outsider here, I am unexpectedly sharing this young black man's lonely, haunted mood. I force myself to stay still, listening intently, and close my eyes to follow the reverberations.

The next thing I am aware of, it is day. I have slept well. There are people in the room. Someone I don't know, a late arrival, is making coffee, and eggs are frying in the makeshift kitchen. The black musician is already up and gone.

stick ball in the park
the anger concentrated
in their play

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