There’s singing and then there’s Freddie Mercury. Out of the deep and deepening well of sound just there in him as if music like a swarm of bees searching for home at last finds it in him, pours into him, seeps into every molecule of bone and marrow, shimmers the blood flowing through every capillary, flumes up into his throat and rushes out to buoy me on the exhilarating, turbulent sea of Bohemian Rhapsody, waking my fallow griefs, fruiting them in every bare note of a capella then oozing into ballad then punching up my flagging spirit with fisticuffs of opera and hard rock then wafting ever so slowly like a collapsing mylar balloon sinking back and hovering over the reflecting well of sound in him and submerges there.
Biographer David Bret puts Mercury’s deep, throaty rock-growl nudging a tender, vibrant tenor to life, then scaling a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline, in my ears, and for a moment I hear the small shatters of broken glass on kitchen floors, the throb of tired feet and stubbed toes on a narrow trail. I draw a breath of musty, fragrant air, duck my head into a dust devil whirl of exhilaration and then I’m wrapped in the chill of lost ways and then lifted in crazy joy, into the mosaic of a stained glass window sunlight beamed through the pinwheeling colors splashed onto a stone cathedral floor.
He’s humming now, collecting minors and majors, pulling out useful detritus from his storied life as he draws out a velvet chair, directs me into it, and settles me at the groaning board of the feast. The late summer dusk chorus of crickets starts up and I do not shut the windows all night.
Paula Marafino Bernett’s poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Margie, Nimrod International Journal, Rattle, Salamander, Tar River Poetry, and Whiskey Island, among others. Her lyric essay “Digression and Memory, The Handmaiden Effect” and a companion essay “Four Hands Improvising on a Piano” appeared in Fourth Genre. A lyric essay “The Smallest Leaning Begins …” was published in Eastern Iowa Reviewand Birdcoat Quarterly published “Lady Mondegreen Rises from the One Who Was Laid Upon the Green.” The flash essay “How a Person Becomes a Body” was published by Gigantic Sequins and nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MaLa from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. She lives in NYC with Chance, her beloved Chessie.