A Rhapsody For UCLA

A Rhapsody For UCLA

We cannot go on singing the rhapsody, but the rhapsody always sings for us.


It was for only a year. A single year. Well, nine months, 36 weeks, and 252 days to be exact. Not even for the amount of time it takes for a newborn child to learn how to stand, and begin the rest of his journey on two feet when he crawls into the world from deep inside his mother's womb. Crying. Wailing as tears, his first and far from his last, sprinkle upon his delicate face like morning dew upon flowers that bloom at the first touch of dawn which escapes from between tattered clouds dyed of night. Though it is well nigh a decade since tears have marred my face, leaving behind a wound no where near as visible, but embedded deeper than age, there linger days. Nights when I gaze out the window of my apartment in Vancouver. At an ocean of darkness that stretches beyond the horizon. The glimmer of lights. Of various colours, shapes, and sizes. Like crumbs of diamonds. Glass. Tears. Ones I wish to shed. Shedded by the the canvas of black above. Mourning for that which has flown down its cheeks. Falling into a place where all that shines must wither. Crumble into the dust it was cut with. But for now to flicker as lights. In houses, streets. Reflecting off windows. As it sits as a reflection. Of the celestial lanterns that remain in the sky.

As I raise my eyes towards their radiance, I blink. Knowing that when they open again, a part of them will not. Until they must close when I lay down for the night. Beneath the stars. Stars my mind boards my imagination to wander, and to sail amongst. To drift briskly and to disappear when my eyes open again. To the stars beneath which I lay. But when I sit up, I am not in my apartment. Or Vancouver. But back. Back among walls. Halls. Tall and bright. Fair and proud. But empty. Silent. Silence fallen upon Powell Library and Royce Hall. The slopes that surround Janss Steps. Charles E. Young. Jimmy's Coffee House where the fumes of Intelligentsia twist and twirl through vents and open doors. Luskin. Melnitz Hall. The Sculpture Garden where I find myself in.

Surrounded by garden paths, hills, and trees. Coral Trees as I pass by, and beneath them. Listening. To the gentle wind that roasts among their leaves, their branches, as they rustle. Rustle and shake until the first golden orange of morning creeps out from between clusters of fronds. A morning fine and fair that pushes back the night. From the boughs, loosening its dark threads until it sheds and leaves behind bark. Bare and pale as bone kissed by snow, a winter that has never born its cold fruit this far South. Left hollow when it echoes. Of birds perched and fluttering. Whistling. Singing. Giving the rustling wind notes. A melody. A voice the mutters. Intimates. A soft and tender rhapsody.

And so I listen. For the rhapsody. From a single voice. Then many. And so I listen. As walls. Halls. Tall and bright; fair and proud; empty and silent are filled until they echo the melody. The notes. From the memory of notes and melody. And so I listen. For a rhapsody to UCLA.

A song which sings. Of a poem. Of a story. Of students passing back and forth. Up stairs, across balconies, between pillars and colonnades. In and out of classrooms, labs and libraries. Their feet drum against tiled floors and manicured lawns. Hoping to leave a print as blue, as deep as their shadows which follow after them. Even as they seek to outrun them but never will. The ring of their laughter that pulsates as a tower of water springs, and flowers through the surface of Shapiro Fountain. Reigning enumerable droplets that crash over polished stone and the water that rushes over them. Drowning out the anguish, the sorrow that streams with lament. Over midterms. Term papers. Internship and Graduate School applications.

Now maddened but enraptured by the song, I try to sing. Of my poem. Of my story. One told back and forth. In and out of classrooms and libraries I once called my own. One that was chased, and eluded the shift of shadows. One that printed countless words as countless as the tears that marked the paper on which they were written. But at last, when I laugh, the particles in the air just beginning to bounce of each other against my voice, the bell tolls. Tolls. A toll both hypnotic and haunting. Telling of the inevitable call. The sound of time. When it is up.

My story. My poem. My song has come to an end. Sung so none may ever, or longer sing it. Intimate its melody, its notes into a rhapsody. Even as the shadows return to recast their nets. Strangling the coral trees and their bark pale of birds that sing and whistle. Of golden orange sunlight as the day withers. Bleeds into the horizon of a dying evening. Melnitz, Luskin, Jimmy's Coffee House, Powell Library and Royce Hall, Charles E. Young, halls tall and bright. The Sculpture Gardens. Me. Fade and crumble. Disappear into the dead of night. Empty and silent. Into a black canvas. A darkness coloured by tears of stars. Shed upon streets. Houses and windows where they glimmer outside my own as I watch.

Sitting upon my bedside, I hum to myself. The rhapsody. The notes and melody it echoed for me before I close my eyes. We cannot go on singing the rhapsody, but the rhapsody always sings for us.

So carry on UCLA. Carry on the rhapsody. A rhapsody of gold and blue. A rhapsody for you.

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