Meiko Ko is a Singaporean living in New York. She is working to become a writer
and a prose poet, and she attends the Second Saturdays Reading Series every month.
She still misses the rain in Singapore. This is her first publication.

A Bell

The bell-effect, or the xylophonic state, combines the notion of clocks with metal and wood to interpret its surroundings, some especially to create the Indonesian effect. Houses, when stripped of time, exist along with these compounded notes, which mimic the mysterious echoes such as those found in limestone caves. The original xylophonist is the knocking bird that uses its water-resistant beak to produce a hollowness in the woods. Other primates are induced into a state of torpor as it knocks out systematic beats till dawn, and over time accepted it as a keeper of the night. The first man to come out of his house and hear the knocking bird's cries is a Javanese, who suffered constantly from a vertical heat at the seat of his primary organ. During that time the Bahasa is the lingua franca and is said to come from an unending sun, that even though set, lingers in huts and between moist furniture. Since then the man has declared the soporific state of the knocking bird as the legal musical agent, and has included chants and other suitable weapons of sleep into the canon. Time, however, remains slow and labored, when the forests and lands are long and stretch beyond the human eye. The cooling effect of the bird's knocks is the main idea espoused by the more established xylophonists of the time, and they adhered strictly to the principles of purity and Islam.

A separate xylophonic development occurred in Osaka, where the abundant bamboos are the primary flora for the construction of the xylophone, and the temperate forests are a background for the lost and wandering. There, men use slopes and bridges and strings to bind the bell's notes into logical and orderly systems, and unlike the cooling effect of the Indonesian makers all thoughts of winter were renamed patience. As in Indonesia, each bell note is purified until they resemble the pearl in a grain of rice. And since the counting process is the basic Osakan maneuver to construct anything larger than a man, all quavers are sifted and distilled from each individual structure to reach a profound, fundamental precipitation. Each man has his time and place, and each bell note is a grave suspension.

In order to recognize equality in all music, the European man has long since recognized the Indonesian gamelan as the root to all modern xylophones. He is also the man who exported himself onto the xylophone and abstracted music into particles that could be reasoned and remembered. When the staccato was discovered, the Indonesian effect was obliterated, and musical readings were organized into blocks of possibilities and forward momentums (in the Indonesian and Japanese models there are no beginnings or ends, the notes are just there). At some point, the possibilities also neglected those made of too much memories, and as a result a group of the lost and wandering began to walk in circular paths, mostly in busy cities. The city in turn produces a wide mixture of people who no longer believe in inequality, and a large corpus of new music arrived. Such blending diverted attention from the xylophone, as an army of instruments such as the violin, cello, together with the cymbals of paranoia, surges and other intense emotions came to the fore. In all cases, however, the man in all three settings recognizes the sadness of the original knocking bird, which, because of its animal form, is unable to know its own music. Acting only as a messenger, it is a muse to man. The man writes down his beats, knowing ultimately that it is the borrowed voice from the mother of all knocking birds that he could be what he is today. He sets the notes into words so he could once again listen to the forlornness of the knocking bird.

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