Street Music | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 11, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:14 PM, August 21, 2019


Street Music

Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday morning: on the brick plaza

at the corner of Fourth and Catherine,

amid the strollers and shopping bags,

the coffee and the canopied table talk,

a man in a tie-dyed African shirt

sways to the music of his marimba.

The music billows down his sleeves

and ripples through his muscular arms,

the notes rebounding from the mallets

and spilling like marbles onto the street.

One hops over to a couple on a bench,

another to a runner stretching her legs.

One skips through the skateboard wheels

of a teen streaking by, shirttails flapping,

then bounces over and stops at my feet.

What’s up? it seems to say. I follow

its path back to the African guy jiving

to his own groove by the stop sign.

Some people stop. A woman returning

from the farmer’s market plunks

her bags down on a wooden bench.

A man lowers his newspaper, looking

over it with furrowed brows that begin

to relax, and a girl with a smoothie

unplugs her ears with her free hand.

When he’s played his set, the musician

snaps the rubber band off his hair,

shakes out his dreads, and wipes

the sweat from his face. He nods

to the cheering rows of some imagined

auditorium as the house lights return.

Yeah, he says smiling. That’s right, yeah.


Nausheen Eusuf is finishing up a PhD in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared in Best American Poetry, World Literature Today, PN Review, and online at The London Magazine and The Guardian.

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