John Coltrane’s Ascent

After Coltrane’s Sun Ship.

Departure of the Fleet, J.M.W. Turner

First there’s a soliloquy disguised
as a solo by Jimmy Garrison: it is
urgent, yet calm, eloquent and convincing.
For five minutes its own statement
but still, obviously, an introduction—
like an MC announcing the main event,
getting the assembly ready to rumble,
or pray.

Then the sly, almost flirtatious overtures
from Elvin Jones—he who could and would
call down the fire and make it rain Light,
establishing a steady, swinging accompaniment.
And then—they’re off…
yet as soon as they accelerate, they slow up
and stop.

Enter Coltrane, another in a series of Impulse
Era, top of the mountain sermons:
there’s brimstone, hail, chunks of energy—
molten as if shorn from the sun itself.

And by the time McCoy climbs aboard
(like Elvin, capable of opening the floodgates
at any time, but content, for now, to ride
shotgun, providing comradery via counterpoint),
the engine’s already cooling, the race already run,
and won.

Then it’s Garrison, alone again—like a friend
meeting you in a darkened alley—and ensuring
you’re safely grounded as you attempt
to account for what’s just transpired:

At once reckoning and reconciliation—
believing once more in miracles
truer than Truth, as the ship ascends
into ether, orange contrails glowing in
its wake.