Monday, October 10, 2011

In a box on the side of the road I found a quena, playing quietly. Maybe it was just the wind, wandering by, peering through the cracks in the box. More likely I think it was just that our bones play themselves, making music even when liberated from the confines of our skin. If our bones are flutes, maybe we don't need harmonicas for hands after all.

I've been thinking about the legend of the quena again lately, now that the rains are back and I can breathe again, about the Incan princess who never knew how long the memory of her bones might be around. I wonder about how the legend splits, how in half of the stories the forlorn lover is inspired by her memory to make the quena out of reeds and bamboo but how in the other half it is her bones themselves that form the instrument. And how the legends are equally split on whether he was driven mad by his loss or if making the quena was a perfectly logical act. In the way of most legends, the answer is almost certainly somewhere in the middle of it all, and yet nowhere near any of it.