Their songs now silent
the finger dances in the evenings, and
the first light of morning,
finished, their voices still
except in memory
and calloused whorls on my skin.
The paper, crisp and white
clean bronze coils spill out
onto the table, next to the rounded wood box
and the old towel I only use for this
ritual of wires and pegs and tension.
One peg, now free to roll across and hide
plays the first note of the new,
flat by an octave and a half,
until I get the tension right again
Round and round I turn, the pitch climbing
higher and higher, until it matches the one next to it,
on the fifth fret, the singing bronze voice right again.
Each string, each a different voice, after more turns
until all is
tight, tuned, and
ready to sing.
--Neal Lemery, 10/10/10