A child does not ask to emerge into the world.
Yet, when the time comes, she enters
Tender, delicate, uncomfortable into a cold, bright world.
From middle age, confident with experience,
I look back at the frightened child I must have been
and wonder what thoughts formed in her head.
That tender child lives within me, but I will never hear her speak.
When enough time has passed
that wrinkles creasing cheeks
When eyes blur
and hide thoughts
that fill passing time
When misheard questions
answers that surprise.
We smile and know
that we are in the presence
In the morning rush, preoccupied
I trip over the grand-dog, eyes mournfully requesting a walk
from me, a poor substitute for his mom who dreams out of sight in the forbidden upstairs.
I lead him through the door,
Follow as he dashes towards the woods,
And encounter the beauty of silent midnight snow.
How easy it is to go about our daily tasks
with eyes cast down.
Nose to the grindstone!
Shoulder to the wheel!
Slogging away at assigned work,
never noticing that winter’s cold breath has faded.
The magic of spring awaits.
That tune she played: it caught my ear.
So sweet, so lovely! I listened as my body
reflected the beat, the drive of the bellows
and her fingers fleet on the keys.
Entranced, I did not think to capture with my phone
the notes and rhythms as they floated to my ears.
Alas! I will never hear that tune the same again.
at least two.
Three or four are fine,
and more, well, we don’t
turn away any contribution.
Jam is always better
when the making is shared.
Banjo, mandolin, guitar.
We need the rhythm, the unique flavors
of their strings and wood bodies.
One bass will do.
Or two if two will.
Always an autoharp. and sometimes
a harmonica or spoons or bones.
“Good enough for old time!” my friend John would say.
The trombone? He plays good rhythm
and toots discreetly towards the floor
reveling in our shared music-making.
Sometimes a clogger dances,
providing rhythm and joy with her feet and, later,
a story about a musical trip to Dublin during The Troubles,
complete with a whispered bomb threat
at a pub where her dancing ensured safety.
Did I mention the tunes?
Old time, from West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.
And sometimes not-so-old-time
from Chicago or Nashville or Quebec.
Their names remind us of stories:
Greasy Coat, Abe’s Retreat, Sadie at the Back Door,
Soldier’s Joy, Pays de Haut, Arkansas Traveler,
Cat Scratching A Pear Tree in Grandma’s Backyard.
I might have made up that last one
long ago when I could not remember
the tune I really wanted to start.