Interlude: Still Still
Inside the hole, where it's yellow, the boy has dropped a quarter so that the guitar rattles when he shakes it by the neck. Knocks, scrapes, scars. So this is what music is. The wooden body is no longer bigger than his body. The strings, which, when he strums them, go on forever are forever wound around small pegs shaped like the big ones they wrap the ropes around, there being an absence of able-bodied mourners to lower, with the softer machines of their bodies, the coffin down. It was a cold day. The boy had not been born yet, but stood among us warm in his round place. Then, from the distance, the bagpiper who'd been found in the yellow pages extracted the horizon note like a red needle from the sky. And so it was not with nothing human our friend was lowered. This is what music is. But how did it sound to the boy, the bladder of cries squeezed through the slit throat when there had not been anything yet to cry about? The solace of music is not that we recognize it. It is that the hearing comes from before and is wound around after. Between, our bad singing a stranger dozed, then bulldozed to. At home, in its case, the guitar was hunkered inside the dark into which music goes, and the more particular dark from which music comes was inside of it. The sound hole swallowed and passed back buckets of silence until the inner and outer dark had the same yellow smell. This, while the song the boy would pay for waited, still still.
Winner of the 2001 Brittingham Prize in Poetry. Copyright © 2001 by Robin Behn. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. All rights reserved.