Karen Marie Garrett
Award-Winning Pianist and Composer

Tally's Lullaby

Internationally acclaimed New York author, T.M. Wright
was so inspired by the lullaby’s beautiful melody that he wrote a poignant response to Karen’s composition in prose.
Wright’s poem, "On Hearing Tally’s Lullaby,” appears in his
thirty-second published work “Bone Soup, A Collection"
(Cemetery Dance 2007).

           

ON HEARING “TALLY’S LULLABY”  (music by Karen Marie Garrett)

My grandmother told me, once,
when her two yellow Labs and the little guy she called “Muttley”
were gathered near, at her cottage by the lake,
"No life is lived well without a dog.”
And she smiled in the way that grandmothers sometimes smile—
as if the simple realities of this existence aren’t for the foolish or self-concerned—
and added, “And that’s as true as yesterday.
Then she reached out and touched her yellow Labs, and the little dog she called “Muttley,” and they smiled, too.

*****

She found her way into her second century before she passed.
It was a long, slow process, her passing, quiet, and without much pain, she said,
though I didn’t believe her.
Her daughters and sons, and a sister who lived with her
allowed no dogs, in her small room, in the cottage by the lake,
so the dogs stood quietly in her yard, or just beyond her door,
and mourned her in the way dogs mourn--
earnestly, but without the need for regret, because they are not us.

*****

She sat with me last night, and said, “Tell me about this music you love, Terry.”
And I said, “Nana”—which is what I call her--
“It’s about a dog named Tally. It’s about her death.”
And Nana hesitated, then said, in a grandmotherly rebuke,
“Music is never about death.”
And I nodded and said, “Yes, I know.”
And she said, “It’s about the other. Music is always about the other.”
And I nodded again, and smiled a little, Karen,
as if she were actually there,
and I said very softly, because your music was playing,
and it filled my space with caressing reassurance,
“Yes, Nana, I know.”

-- T.M. Wright

___________________


T. M. Wright, New York   "I'm listening--again and again--to "Tally's Lullaby," and it's helping, in an odd way, with a deep sense of grief I'm feeling for a man I've never met, a man who frequents a discussion board I go to from time to time, a man who has proven himself, on this board, to be very intelligent, very caring and sensitive, and possessed of great wit.  I learned, on the board, yesterday, that this man is very ill, so I wrote to him and told him I hope he's soon able to "jump back into the boat," and that Roxane and I both wished him a quick recovery.  He wrote back, and in very lucid and literate way, told me that he was dying.  The letter was several long paragraphs, and when I read it, I was astonished, and when I reread it--to Roxane--I could hardly get through it because it made me weep.  And it's been very difficult for me to accept that--the fact that he's dying, because, on the discussion board, he was so very alive, so quick-witted, so full of humor.
 
I am more or less a stranger to death and dying; the last time I wept over someone's passing was in 1980, when John Lennon was assassinated.  But this man's all-but imminent death floored me, perhaps because of the kind of person he clearly is, I'm not sure.
 
So, I put "It's About the Rose" on the DVD player and listened to Tally again and again.  Oddly, as melancholy as it is, its movements and even its individual notes seemed to....track the grief I was, and am, feeling, as if you, the composer, had seen into my soul, and had seen what this kind of grief could do.  But you didn't know me when you composed it, of course; you simply knew well about grief, and "Tally's Lullaby" was born because of that knowledge.
 
Thank you, Karen.  Tally's Lullaby knew and shared my grief, and salved it at the same time."