The Composition of Air
For Wayne Van Cortlandt Smith, January, 29, 1939 – June 9, 2018
“Did you know the first three notes of…”
(What was it?)
“are the same as …?”
Why didn’t I pay attention…then?
Capture those motes of precious ‘did you knows?‘
not understanding how important they would be now—
the ache to remember their blessed curiosity,
But I didn’t.
But I remember,
these are the kinds of things
only Wayne Smith would know and declare,
as casually or intensely, as he might share
his newly found passion for the periodic tables,
would know how Johann Sebastian
breathed the same measures of air,
centuries before they made their rounds again
to pass through the alveoli of Debussy,
to Bill Evans…and on, and on.
Notes filling the lungs
of those born to make sense
of the myriad juxtapositional possibilities
swarming the universe—
passing the rest of us by on a breeze.
That air, only some of us can divine—
from lungs to brain to heart—
allotted their chosen place,
by chosen fingers, then shared—
became quintessentially Wayne’s notes.
Three, might fill the lungs of
some yet unborn jazz-child
as it gasps its first breath,
hears its first notes.
Lia Di Stefano