*scroll down for a YouTube video

Tonsils yanked out at age 4
Dad gave me a record player
And his only 33-1/3 album
Maurice Ravel’s Bolero
Dreamed over it for years
A progression from heaven
Hollywood mocked it
Used in a silly seduction
But to me
Little girl, then teen, then adult
It was an introduction to passion

Fast forward to old age
Taught myself baritone ukulele
Don’t understand musical notation
Don’t understand tablature
So I’m a Chordie
Stumbled upon a lovely used book
Looked handwritten
And no notes, tabs, chords
But the scales
Remember The Sound of Music?
Doe a deer, a female deer:
Do, re mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do
Written in scales!
But there are chord diagrams
All I need to do is transfer
Six strings to four
And I’m off
To another universe
A place to immerse
My inquiring mind
A fascinating musical code
I can understand!

Seems it’s the Phrygian Mode
Three-quarter time
Used in Flamenco
And other Classical Spanish guitar music
That I admire so much
Old lady plays a Bolero
Not as fun as the scratchy vinyl
Playing the gift
Ravel gave us
But fantasy creates the start of a song:

Heard your song last night
World acoustics
Like old-time radio waves
Carried your mood
Across the woods
Heard you play
A bolero progressing
Through air
Heart pounding in three-quarter time
Through mist
As wild winds
Brushed palm fronds
Brushing together like that special sound
On jazz drums
And me humming
Humming becoming keening
Because I knew
There would never become
A me and you…


I know
Not a happily-ever-after
Maybe not a bolero
After all
Maybe just a love song
Gone wrong?

But oh, I unlocked a mystical code
And I’m off to learn something new
In the sometimes cobalt blue
Of life… YouTube Bolero, Maurice Ravel



(c) 2020 Clarissa Simmens, ViataMaja
IMAGE: BOLEROS BOOK (inside and out)

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