The faraway sound was familiar, but strange.
“What’s that?” asked the child.
Holding hands with a grown-up, the child circled around the bubbling fountain and arrived at a bench near the Natural History Museum, where a man sat playing a didgeridoo.
Others stood by listening.
A strange, pulsing sound rose from the speaking end of the didgeridoo. It was like the rhythm of the ocean. Like the beating of a heart.
The man’s cheeks swelled as he breathed life through the instrument. The slightly crooked didgeridoo, painted from one end to the other with blue moons and yellow stars, was simply the hollow trunk of a young tree. With his lungs the man produced an ancient music that was resonant, churning, pulsing, surging.
Surging, surging, echoing, echoing.
The child ran a few steps forward, halted within arm’s reach of the magic.
The music never paused or faltered. The man didn’t stop. His eyes were half-closed and turned inward as his head swayed and lungs worked. His cheeks swelled. Beads of sweat made his face gleam. Suddenly the man’s eyes opened wide and he looked directly at the child. An eye winked.
The child laughed and dropped down to the ground to look up into the open end of the didgeridoo. From fallen leaves the child peered up toward the source of the strange music, into the darkness of the singing tree, searching.
There was nothing to see. Only space. A vast, unbounded space more mysterious than the deepest ocean. A place beneath blue moons and yellow stars.
Unfathomable, untouchable, an infinity overflowing with invisible music that swelled like an exultant heart.
And somewhere above it all: a winking eye.
“You’re going to get dirty down there,” said the grown-up. “Come on. It’s lunch time. Aren’t you hungry by now?”
The child jumped up and the two made their way through the sunny park, in step with a beating heart that would not end.