Ever The Novice

Ever The Novice

In a back corner of the flea market are instruments,
a chipped clarinet, a pitted silver trumpet
and a three-stringed violin in its moth-eaten case.

Still, somehow, you hear the music,
the slow draw of the bow in a tune sweet
and melancholy, made poignant

in the slightly cracked patina
that tells a story of love and loss,
the soundtrack of a life gone somehow off tune.

It is not the most beautiful of things.
No Stradivarious, this. but still, hand-made,
crafted to make music, created for magic,

and then by fate or neglect, left in a closet
or attic for a generation, becoming
more ornament than instrument,

until it ended up here, in the flea market,
one slightly damaged piece of musical hardware
among many.

You pluck a string, hear the resonance,
the promise of music. Ever the novice,
you know somehow, there is saving

in this old violin. New strings. A bit of glue.
The finish matters less than the resonance,
And fool that you are, you buy it.

Never mind that you have no idea
how to play a violin.
Some things are worth saving.

About this poem

Poems have stories. This one was begun in one of my diners, when I got a phone call that the furnace guy was on his way to fix my heater. So I interrupted the writing to rush home and clear a path to the furnace. And then sat down to finish the poem.

In that twenty minutes, somehow, the poem became something entirely different.

About violins. About saving things and people and ourselves. About feeling like a novice in my own life. Poetry is never about one thing.


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