© Dana W. Paxson 2005

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1560 4D

Three hard slams from Grioskin‘s bass panpan, and we launched into IVY STONE, one of Thringe‘s best up-tempo thrashings over painful high-speed love. As I dived in, my voice grew harsh and strong, the anjive accents and skirlings heightened, and with Jaeg‘s memory jabbing my innards I let everything fly out of me, hard and sobbing, until the end of the piece. Total silence. A shiver took me, and I looked up from the floor.

Throughout the whole room, all hands were raised in the air in silence. We had hushed them. A nudge in my back from Drasstar. “Step out there alone,” he muttered.

I took two steps and stood, near-naked, before the crowd, my hands at my sides, looking straight ahead. Hands began to move in the silence. Something passing forward. Finally the people in the front laid several small bundles of stalks on the edge of the stage. Rep-peppers, from their drinks.

This was a tribute. I had heard that Thringe had received this praise only a few times in her career. I stood confused as the hum began rising and falling regularly. Rashua came up behind me. “They want you to make a new one,” she said. “If you start in, we’ll follow you. Can you try?”

I couldn’t move. Make a new one? A song? But I didn’t have anything… I looked at Drasstar, who shrugged and grinned. I mouthed, I don’t know what to do, and he pointed at me, mouthing, Say something to them.

The crowd waited. Among the faces, pale andros, dark people, men and women, faces all with tears and smiles and eyes wide. I said, “This is for the miners.” My father and mother. I had a poem in my heart, one I had never said out loud, and I looked over at Grioskin and Drasstar, Naudi and Rashua. They gave a tight nod, waited. I began.

It was nearly syllabic, like Thringe‘s, but I didn’t want to think, just to let it out. Maybe there would not be any time but now, not after the CIB got the tests back. This had to be said, no, sung, now. Slow, Lejina, slow.

“Devouring stone,

Stone devouring,

Blood is water,

Water is blood.

Your blood trickles

Down the hot seams,

My hot blood pours

In your castings…"

The band’s chords came in, slow as my hard words, insistent, as my voice caught a turn, moved into a surer melody.

“My hot blood pours

In your cold veins,


Eating fire.”

It was for the andro miners, for my long-dead mother, for my father’s dead friends, for the pain in his eyes, for his wracking cough and the perpetual hovering near poverty and death, and I sang it all, barely hearing the turns and the anjive buzz and pierce of ultrasonics coming from me. My eyes closed, my body tightened until it wanted to explode, and I choked out the last phrases and lowered my head. Rashua‘s syntrell rang a last plaintive fading note.

Silence again, then a steady hum, and the crowd stood. No one seemed to know what to do. At last, Drasstar came forward. He said to them quietly, “Sit down, and we’ll play a little more for you and let it all settle. Then maybe Thringe will go back and sing you a few of her favorites.” A rustle and scraping began, and people sat down and watched. A few sobs here and there. I stepped back and sat beside the band as they played, and wondered, How will I get to my father? What will happen when I’m taken away?

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