The first tone tap tap taps like water on a windowsill, only it doesn’t sound like a gray day’s rain — it sounds like a sun-warmed raindrop, sweet and clear. The note gently tap tap taps on the heart.
My friend sent me the song in a care package to Namibia, where I lived as a teacher. At night I listened to Kate Walsh sing, as close to inside my ears as I could get. She sang my longing as I lay under the mosquito net. I yearned for everything, out there in the desert — family, language, food, technology, romance — and she lullabied me.
I listened to Kate on repeat. I took her with me out to the spigot as I filled the blue bucket to wash clothes. I stood in the dust and tried to make sense of her words:
So I’ll make whirlpools,
and watch him sparkle
I didn’t know what she meant, but watching the water made me think I did. At the outdoor tap, the water was warmest, the closest thing to warm water. A subtle piano cascaded notes down, in a swirl, but the water gushed out hard. Sunlight sprang up from the bottom.
Kate’s voice was simple, sometimes nervous. Sometimes she sounded old, like a granny, sometimes young and shy. Her voice shrank, as if to say, notice me, don’t notice me. Like a fisherman she cast her lines out, and nearly forgotten words bobbed at the end:
I’m stuck on a boy, who
fills me with joy, I
knew I was wrong to
jump straight on into
this picture so pretty
It was a confession trailing off.
and we’ll make
I lugged the dusty-bottomed bucket back inside. Was she right? Would it be magic?