BIG SISTER
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 
Provincetown


José González - "Open Book". Ke'mar's grandfather used to tell him stories about the days before Bollo was a desert. Once, long ago, before even they had been born, Bollo was an island in the midst of a wide sea. Kwii's southern face was like the rest of the summer planet: sapphire water dotted with tiny islets, with darting finbacks and spiderweeds. Back then, Bollo wasn't a desert capital - it was known for its pearl-divers, for its sailboat engineers. And yet, over time, sand accumulates. There is a Bollonese proverb: Sand comes. It appears in the corners of rooms, at the bottoms of cliffs - bit by bit the islet of Bollo became an island, the island became a larger island, and the island became a small, complete continent. A landmass with its own dunes and oases, insects and mammals, scavenging birds. No one living remembered when Bollo was an island but they had all heard stories of it, passed down folktales of flying fish and shipwrecks.

Bollo's sand gave it a special status on Kwii. Most of the planet was suffused with balmy saltwater, tropical groves; desolation was rare, and it attracted a special class of tourist. For two generations, Ke'mar's family had managed a guesthouse for these wilderness-seekers. They provided clean beds, fresh breakfasts, sonic showers to wash the sand from clothes and skin. They played quiet music during the evening meal, as all the visitors sat on carpets and ate. They provided long bouts of silence - their guests almost always preferred silence - as the house filled and emptied with wanderers, dreamers, lonely-hearts. Some mornings, when Ke'mar was toasting the cakebreads, he would stare out into the atrium and wonder if any of these travellers had ever met his sister.

All of this is because of me. This was one of the songs Ke'mar sang with his family, at dinner, as they sat in a circle before the visitors. It was an old song, maybe a prayer, but whenever Ke'mar sang these words he thought of Ki'ax. He imagined her singing this line, back when he was barely old enough to read. Did she hear it as reproach? As regret? Was she singing this line, one day, when she decided to leave Bollo?

She was out there somewhere, in the rainforests of Lama or Su, or off-planet, a trader on the autumn world. She was out there somewhere, miles or light-years from the desert, and she still hid this hot song in her heart. [buy Vestiges & Claws / it's just wonderful]

---

In case you didn't hear: I have begun writing a weekly music column for the Globe & Mail. Read the first one here (and see if you can find my mortifying typo :( ).

(Image is Robert Frank's Untitled (Children with Sparklers in Provincetown), from 1958. Thank you Alex.)

Posted by Sean at February 23, 2015 11:06 AM
Comments

"Lama or Su?" Are we on Kamino circa Attack of the Clones?

I'm thoroughly enjoying this alien tale.

Posted by Zoë at February 23, 2015 12:57 PM

I like this song, and I hope there will be more stories from this universe.

Posted by Lindsey at February 24, 2015 2:10 AM

What Lindsey said (except that I don't just like this song, I instantly love it).

Posted by Michelle at February 25, 2015 2:43 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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