No Matter What, I Wish You Luck

Chanel Dubofsky

You can see the whole garden from the window, all bright and honey colored in the sunshine. This morning, I went to the practice room at the end of the hallway. You have to get up very early to be able to work in that room. The roses seem like they're about to fall off the bushes, soaked with humidity, round and full like a pregnant stomach. I watched a bee hover around the rose bushes and then attack one, tumbling into the petals like a diver disappearing beneath the waves. The rose probably didn't even know what had happened, and that bee was just doing its job, getting honey for the queen. I hope she appreciated it.

Antonin Dvorak wrote a violin concerto in A minor that I love. It sounds easy, delicious, deep, like a ripe peach, but it can make you crazy. When I was first learning to play it, it seemed insincere, audacious, to try to recreate something so earnest, raw, so much bigger than yourself. I lay down on the floor of the practice room with my head on my violin case and my violin resting on my ribcage and played some parts of the Dvorak.

Last winter, I heard a Prokofieff violin concerto at a chamber orchestra concert. The violinist was very young. He had a curious way of holding the bow, like it was floating on the ends of his fingers. I hung over the chair in front of me, trying to see if his brow was furrowed, if he was pale, or green or shaking. He wasn't. Sometimes it's a matter of forgetting that it's work. Leah was sitting next to me, her clog dangling off the end of one foot, scribbling like a maniac on her program. You can never tell what any of it says; it's all swirls and angles and frantic underlining. She has piles and piles of programs from concerts with writing all over them. She says it's the way she listens.

The floor of a practice room is usually worn down from people pacing back and forth. Some people play in every corner to see where they sound best. This floor smelled like elementary school; glue and sweat and pencil shavings. I held my neck very straight and looked up at the ceiling. My arm felt stiff and my violin kept slipping around, but I stayed there, feeling the notes bouncing off my insides and vibrating like chimes through my bones.

When the Prokofieff was over, Leah sat running her hands over the raised ink on her program. "Look at that," she whispered to me, over the applause. "Isn't that remarkable?" She pointed to a letter f, thin and graceful and slicing down the page. We sat there, admiring the peculiar loveliness of it; the plumpness of its loop, the spontaneous beauty in the midst of Leah's illegible scribbles. There's strength to be drawn from unintended perfection. First, of course, you have to trust that things like that are possible.

Chanel Dubofsky

Art concept: Bara Sapir

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From previous issues:

The Other Rally
Samuel Hayim Brody

On Being a Leftist and a Zionist
Jay Michaelson

Fleeing Edges
Noam Mor