In a New York Minute
It is cavernous here at the bottom of the stone steps; the air chilly and brisk because the stone is shielding us from the sun of an autumn September day.
A little hand holds mine, lips slightly parted and eyes wide with wonderment as the music soars to the colossal and colorful mosaic ceiling, carried on cherub’s wings it seems.
In the distance, barely visible save for my memory and familiarity with this space, an angel watches over us, her stiff bronze shoulders offering rest for a flock of tired pigeons while water spouts at her feet, each small solitary fountain providing the backbeat for the song emerging from the voices of the choir inside these inviting arches.
There are 5 of them with skin the color of dark chocolate, lifting their chins and eyes as the strain of the verse begins. One by one, they each add an element, a drop into the harmony pot, until the refrain lifts us, as if on a gentle swell of a calm sea we bob along, the a cappella washing over us.
Eyes meet other eyes, smiles meet other smiles, a community in any language we are entranced and entertained, bonded among the climbing chords.
Awe as a small boy breaks from the group and steps forward to offer his melody; it starts low as if in prayer and then ascends the walls of this vast and open chamber, invoking praise and hope, a plea to for divine intervention and gentle grace.
For a moment, the only sound in this cavernous spot is his alto filling the empty spaces between us, warming the reserved hearts among us, united in the exclamation and benediction he sweetly emits.
We do not move, rooted to our spots by pure wonderment as his symphony builds crashes and alights.
In another moment, the veneration is over; fading and floating up above and away from us into the heavens like wisps of heavy smoke that rise in the midst of a magic trick, leaving you believing.
His last note is joined by the clapping of hands, big and small, in boundless admiration for the gift he offered.
As life resumes in the chamber, strollers screech and tiny voices whine, begging for swings and slides. My nostrils take in the aromas of roasted peanuts, burnt doughy pretzels and the dung from the horses that clip-clop on the bridge above us.
We move past the other spectators, our village disbanded, toward the angel, and as my hand drops a crumpled bill into the makeshift collection basket the sunshine hits the tip of my nose.
I am warmed from the inside out.
The song is over but the magic remains.
For this week’s memoir prompt, we’re going to let narrative take a backseat. Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breath the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.