Maybe it was the light

falling from a dozen spots


on your fretting hands, your bass,

on pianist, drummer, horn, and reeds,


on Monk as you raised him up

in a concert hall beside a replica

of middle passage. Maybe the day’s


brutal words after the news

of the day before. Maybe because


I’d spent hours wrangling kids

and was too tired to not hear


how song makes a story pass

from a bass into the one night


we endure together, I rise

against my will and go back

to the ugly work of being alive.