Scribble Singing

Scribble singing:  An ode to transitory thrills, ephemeral beauty and the fleeting nature of life

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m a little prone to wanting to hang onto things as they are.

That might come as a surprise to some who know me.  “You?” I can imagine them saying, hands on hips like a row of skeptical Rockettes, their left eyebrows all cocked in unison.  I have, after all, developed something of a reputation for changing course in life the way some people change their knickers – one jaunty kick and it’s into the basket, on with the new, and away I go.

And yet…

There are moments I wish I could re-experience.  Places I’ll likely never see again.  People I love who have drifted out of my life or are no longer with us.  Life’s like that.  But I resist it.  It shouldn’t be that way, I think.  It just shouldn’t.

But it is.

I am happiest when I just let all that in. And have it be the way it’s meant to be. When I dive fully into the moment and swim in it and gulp the air and rub up against life like a happy pup rolling in the grass for no reason.  I can remember the instant I got that years ago, when my younger daughter, Simone, was just a wee tyke and we were having a perfectly ordinary morning – or so I thought – and something extraordinary happened for me, thanks to her:

    Scribble Singing
    —for Simone
    We’re minutes from the preschool, my head abuzz
    with all the wrong words, my brain straining
    for a better way to say what it is that needs to be said
    in this poem trying to push its way out of me,
    and I jump, startled, when Simone, face pressed
    to her window, gazing at the sour man in the car
    idling next to ours, takes a sharp breath and breaks out
    in song, her voice clear and fearless, a four-year-old
    lark serenading stalled traffic with her other-world dialect,
    the lyrics all sounds never sung before.
    The words using her as their instrument are so fragile,
    so dragonfly-wing transparent, seconds later I’m
    unable to hear in my mind just what the secret syllables were.
    What was that little song, sweetie? I wait for the pre-K,
    crayoned title: Kittens, or My Best Friend, Ashley.
    Scribble singing, she answers, with a small bird-chest sigh,
    as if she were telling me something I’d been told
    many times.  Scribble singing, of course, how is it I didn’t
    know that? An unspoiled soul’s magic scat, private sky-writing,
    beyond-language smoke rings let fly in soprano puffs,
    their soul aspiration the brief pleasure of feeling the lips
    shape strange, loopy sweetness, tickling the unprepared ear
    with their bright, radiating noise, the tired heart
    treated to a comforting pat, a good-natured nudge, a childlike
    kiss.  And then the libretto’s erased forever, of course,
    its brilliant, ringing vapor dissipated as it must be,
    its transitory thrill distilled to an ebbing echo
    in the car.  So quiet.  My daughter, having long since moved
    on to other wonders, looks heavenward, puzzled, then
    to me with the question:  Why are the clouds closing?
    Because it’s going to rain, I say, disappointed, back-ended
    by grief there on the highway, the foggy smudges
    of my own scribble songs too faint now to make out,
    though I’m fairly certain I can almost recall what it’s like
    to know that goombah-mah-cha-cha is chewy and tart,
    whereas a booley-looley, as any fool knows, will coat
    your tongue like thick honey.  I wish
    I were like her, I wish I could love the impermanence,
    the ghostiness, the slip-slidiness of words, of things,
    of people, and I hope for her sake
    she holds off that untamable love’s flight
    as long as her wise, brave self is able, that it will be
    lifetimes before she loses her scribble-singing voice,
    before she’s indifferent, unmindful, forgets the poetry—
    God-years before she’s unable to find the words
    she turns and recites to me now: I want to go
    to a parade today, please, or a fair.
    I’m growing! Look how big my feet are this morning!
    If you grew, mama, you’d be a giant, bump your head
    on the ceiling.  You’d be taller than trees, too big for the sky.
    —by Deborah Beroset

May your scribble-singing voice be ever at the ready, and may you sing many joyful songs with it, however out of tune.  And come happy hour, have a booley-looley on me.

Live lusciously.

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6 Responses to “Scribble Singing”

  1. mr so and so says:

    beautifully designed website, full of elegant, often touching surprises. i loved this poem.

  2. Hannah says:


  3. Deb Beroset says:

    I’m so glad you liked the poem and the site in general, and I thank you for saying so, Mr. So and So. Your comment made my day.

  4. Deb Beroset says:

    Thank you, Hannah! Your support is ever appreciated.

  5. I usually don’t ordinarily post on many Blogs, still I just has to say thank you… keep up the amazing work. Ok regrettably its time to get to school.

  6. Deb Beroset says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot to know that there are people out there such as yourself reading — with generosity of spirit — and taking the time to reach out. I hope to hear from you again.

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