“And Hope and Lust and Steam”
A heart that beats
An incredible machine
Made of blood and love
And hope and lust and steam
Music always has a way of telling the perfect story. When we are at a loss for words, a song can describe our emotions perfectly. A song has its own unique way of exploring the human form in depth and range. “Incredible Machine” details the human existence perfectly. By exploring self-worth, self-exploration, and love, this song echoes the anthems of childhood. Looking at the lyrics, they are quite simple in nature. One might not be able to see the impact the words have, but through a closer listen, you can start to experience something more than just notes and lyrics.
With the first drum beats we are taken on a journey, a story if you will. Then the piano starts echoing the drums. They are saying things. They are saying things about your life. Isn’t that what it comes down to? The drums ask. Of course, silly. The piano inserts. Jennifer’s twangy, velvety vocals begin as we are almost transported to another place and time. Feels like flying, wings made of light, she coos. The instruments follow suite.
In harmony, they create this other-world. In response, the wind beneath my body seems to take me off the ground. The sky drops down to where I am. My arms are free in the breeze and the cool night air is soft against my cheek. I’ve been lifted up by seven little words. Little words about flying is what kids dream about. I remember laying awake in bed wondering what it would be like to fly. Flying is what dreams and ambitions feed off of. We create these fantasies and they never leave our bodies, even as adults.
Brand new and shinin’, like a shot rung out through the night, she murmurs. My arms are weak, but I long to continue on. I’m zooming over my barn-like house and the green rolling hills surrounding it. My body is only growing stronger with every word she whispers. She flies easily at my side. Her breathe is even and light. I want to look at her, but I can’t. My eyes only long to see the ground pass like water beneath me. My body tumbles from side to side, but with her guiding hands, I stay afloat. Her voice begins to lilt in my ear. I soon start to remember sitting by the river on sticky summer nights as a child. The water is gentle on my skin. My feet dangle over the edge of the broken concrete into the muddy river. The starry night illuminates my fingers. I see something move across the water. I look. The silence is only broken by the plump and the flop of a black shape into the water. I briefly smile and look back at the stars.
My heart begins to race now as I’m drawn back to “reality” and to flying. I never really left flying, I note. I’ve always been flying. Now I can only see trees, dark and green. I reach out to touch their branches, but only a cool sensation pricks my fingertips. A heart that beats, she went on. An incredible machine, I replied. Only then did I realize what those words meant. I was a wonder. I was made of blood and love and hope and lust and steam. My human form, well, my entire existence was a marvel. Being able to fly like this was a rarity. Calling, she guided me out over a clearing. The woods disappeared and opened up onto jagged rock. Calling, it echoed. We quickly descended. The rush of the wind hit me as I hit the rock. Calling. I lost my balance and would have fallen if her words hadn’t caught me.
Feels like I’m floating, I heard. For the first time, I saw her face. Round, smooth, and golden, she smiled back at me. Her hair disheveled, she took my hand and motioned for me to sit. The rock was cold and bitter on my skin. One quick shiver raced along my spine just before a falling star shot across the night sky. My heart stopped. Weightless in flight, I wished silently. With those words, I let my mind drift again and I closed my eyes. I was in a daze, remembering things I had long forgotten. The days of innocence and purity floated behind my eye lids. I could see pictures now. Pictures of myself, young and spritely, flashed across my memory. I saw myself running through tall stalks of grass. My feet were bare and covered in dust. Then, I saw myself in a swing, red and wooden. The paint was flaking. Leaning back, I began to rock. I was sitting on rock, I mused. Rock and rock, I smirked.
My eyes peeked open…only to see her figure edge towards the darkness. On impulse, my eyes shot open and the gentle images of my past exploded and were gone. Planets exploding, she instructed, once she felt I was awake. She was standing at the far edge of the granite. Her arms were at her side and her expression was blank. As a soul and gravity fight? I inquired. She merely nodded a reply. She turned, and with one movement, her body fell. Her body became one with the wind, the moon, the stars, and the earth far below. I could only watch on in horror. Lift it higher, Mercury skies above, I prayed. My eyes focused on the empty air before me. It struck me. I no longer questioned my existence here. On this cliff, Calling her name or second guessing her intentions seemed insignificant now. She was gone, and nothing I could do would change that. Water, fire were the only true elements of being alive. In an instant, my whole childhood flashed before my eyes.
I took a second to collect myself and realized I wasn’t breathing. I hadn’t realized how important even the simple things in life were, like breathing. Gasping for breathe, I took to my feet. Burning a sign of love, the silence whispered. Just then, my heart began to burn with notstalgia. I clutched my chest. The fire grew under my skin and my senses began to dull. First, my sense of touch, smell, and taste left my form. I could do without those, I reasoned. Then, hearing, my most prized possession, drained from my ears. Last, but certainly not least, my eyes eclipsed over into a colorless world.
Without my knowing, the last drum beats faded into my human form.
I was left formless.
A huge thanks goes out to Shenee Howard for including me as a stop on this Story Tour.