Coltrane just sits there,
almost expressionless, thoughtful, perhaps even a touch sombre,
on the little red stool in my bedroom, listening to the Dodgers radio broadcast
from Ebbets Field. We speak not at all.
Occasionally, he might lift an eyebrow when Vin Scully raises his voice
if Duke blasts one out or Gino Cimoli guns down a runner going for second.
He is a handsome man with a well-shaped head, but a bit puffy around the eyes
like in the cover photo of A Love Supreme, but this is earlier, ’57 or so.

It’s evening, after dinner, the family downstairs, doing what they do.
John will come by now and then to sit with me
on his way back from Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack
after recording all day. Art Taylor or Red Garland might drop him off here
on their way back into the city. Usually, they all just hop on a bus,
the 162 to the Uptown Port Authority at 168th Street, by Columbia Presbyterian.
Are you familiar with his composition ‘Route 4’, the highway they travel?
It really moves.
I never know when John will turn up, but I’m always happy when he does,
more than happy. Mom and Dad seem amenable to his visits,
even Grand, very out of character, who barks like mad when the doorbell rings.
In some ways John Coltrane has replaced Grand,
who would sit watchfully beside me when I was smaller still, my guardian.
When John’s on hand it’s like Grand’s night off, and he flops down
under the living room coffee table for an extended nap
near my folks who are reading the Atlantic Monthly or John O’Hara, like that.
Can’t remember them ever listening to jazz or even knowing who Coltrane is,
just this exceedingly polite and kind young black man
who enjoys sitting with Aug and keeping him company, nothing odd about that.

I really can’t recall when exactly these visits first began
but they remain vivid in my memories of childhood,
like snow days playing with my toy soldiers or Hiram’s hot dogs,
and remain most comforting. Even today, all these years later,
whenever I’m a bit off or in need of something, I don’t quite know what,
I play his Prestige sides from 1957, ‘Russian Lullaby’ or ‘Traneing In’
and think of my friend, John Coltrane, just sitting there beside me, listening.

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