You see it in the antique shop, the finish barely scarred,
a string missing, rich and lost in its green velvet case,
an old violin, the tag faded from the sun.
You pluck a string. Music struggles out of the soundbox.
A single note, almost in key.
How many you wonder, picked it up, tuned it
and played it with enthusiasm and love,
learned the art of music with a bow
and hard work, and then abandoned it.
Too much work. Too much practice.
Fingers grow tired. Other, jazzier instruments
seduce them. Age or some need greater than music,
and it is passed on. Forgotten. Left in the attic
to slowly come undone, waiting, wondering
if there is another chance to sing,
and whether there is the courage left
to start again, or is it better to simply fade away,
become a decorative thing, shabby chic,
a conversation piece, little more, no longer subject
to false hopes, full of music no one will hear.
A tear falls down your cheek.
You are not a musician or a restorer of instruments.
You lack the skill to save, but for all your faults
you are steadfast. The tag says twenty-five dollars
You reach into your wallet
About this poem
This is one of those “not inspired, so I found a picture to write to” poems. The picture was taken at the twice a year antique fair at the nearby Washington Country Fairgrounds.
I have a dear friend who restores old violins and other string instruments. His shop is just below my art studio and I like to walk among his tables and watch the progress of restoration. Slow, painstaking and noble.
People who felt abandoned will recognize the feelings. I’ve heard it from so many. I’ve felt it. That feeling of being abandoned by someone right there with you. How many times you trust, do you try again? Can you ever feel safe again?
No one, save ourselves, has an answer.
From those things, this poem.