Miles Davis Stole My Soul

by Tomás Q. Morin

Tomás Q. Morín

is not entirely accurate because John Coltrane was there,
and Bill Evans too, and I forget who else
because after they finished playing and fled the scene
I felt kind of, not blue exactly, but green,
the kind the old masters used to paint trees groaning
or the warm sheen on a rotten ham. My soul
had begged me to listen to jazz
after we argued about the stoic on the corner
selling flowers, ranting about paradise
and how the soul was a kind of vegetable, a cucumber
I think he said, which I wanted to believe,
even if the cucumber is obviously a fruit.
My soul knew this wasn’t right
of course, it being the subject in question,
so it sought to prove me wrong
by inviting Miles and Co., while I was making a salad
no less, two parts radish, one part joke,
to dip their notes like ladles and empty
my heart. By the time I’d chewed the last piece of lettuce,
my soul was gone and there was no one left
with whom to argue about the seemingly arbitrary
best by dates on milk cartons
which are meant to convey a sense of security,
however fragile, or about the defect in every body of water
an impressionist painted, who, for all their love
of nature never set one ripple right,
a fact I learned in the days that followed
searching for my soul in lakes and rivers,
dishpans and aquariums, because God is nothing
if not a comedian, and when I still couldn’t find my soul,
I found an intersection and lectured on charity and loss.
I still remember the sweet faces in the passing cars
when I began to pray for rain and dance
the flamenco; I remember it was a Wednesday
because nothing significant ever happens on a Wednesday.

When no clouds bloomed on the horizon
as a symbol of divine forgiveness, I returned home
where I found the stoic with milk on his lips,
skinning an orange, standing in the same place
I had stood with my salad, this peddler of cucumbers
whom I was going to remind about the laws
of property, except he started singing,
yes, singing, a song I hadn’t heard before
but that I was sure was godly
because I recognized Galilee and Adam and shame,
as well as the white rolling of his eyes,
which told me he was now a servant of the music
making his throat open and close like a gate,
releasing the warm floodwaters of his voice
that filled and overran the hole
I had still been calling my heart.
If in that moment you had been flying
in a plane high above the country of my body
you would’ve been surprised, as I am now, by the sight
of barren plains broken by a system of clear lakes
shaped like a patch of wild cucumbers,
a once noble fruit that saved nations
because it was hardy, versatile, and demanded so little.

Last updated February 23, 2023