Song of fragility

These precious wooden eggshells
Out of their tough cases they are vulnerable
But locked away they cannot sing –
when singing is their reason for being.

There is always a tender tension
in a good musician whose instrument
is resting on a chair
even as he chats with colleagues
in an orchestral teabreak.
part of the mind is always attentive
to the fragility he has drawn
out of its case. An attention
not guilty, but born of gratitude
for the open trust
that allows them to sing together.

The defenceless fragility of the walls
is what allows them to vibrate.
The strength of a tree planed down
to this delicate membrane of music.
And something is betrayed when these
fragile cocoons of sound
are ruptured by carelessness or spite.

My body is a dusty guitar
strung by the hair that falls
past the curve of my waist.
Wounds patched, barely visible now,
wholeness restored by patient hours of healing
until the intact walls are ready
to sing again. Yet still the dust lies thick,
undisturbed by the waves of emotion
that once shrugged away both dust and time
The waves of emotion that used to make me tremble
flowing up the shell of me and coming out in sound.
The waves that were stranded in the doldrums
when the songs of my heart
and my body
were silenced by the pain of love’s abandonment.

Unplayed, an instrument
grows stiff, loses its sweetness
must be coaxed back by the gentleness
of patient fingers. As if the wood
knows how fragile its defences are
and fears to once again
be twisted to play uncongenial tunes
by hands that force its fragile walls
not to resonate
but distort.

Yet a body that has once known the joy of song
will always yearn to sing again.
And the music that is in me
cannot be silenced
for long.

This responds to two prompts – the picture above, by crzycowgrl046 at photobucket, which is the Monday Mural at Poefusion, and this week’s prompt at One Single Impression – defences down.

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23 responses to “Song of fragility

  1. I particularly like the first part of this poem, I never really thought about the vulnerability of the instrument (mine being the piano which seems capable of withstanding so much over the decades of moves). Very thought provoking, and the painting is fabulous.

  2. I used to be a violinist, then took up treble viol, both of which are very beautiful and fragile instruments. And the viol, in particular, goes stiff when it’s not played for a while.

    But first and foremost I’m a singer, so the link between instrument and body is a natural one for me – and it’s a different sort of fragility, though no less real.

  3. Just lovely. Your words do sing.

  4. This was just wonderful! A very unusual, evocative work. Loved it. G

  5. My body is a dusty guitar/strung by the hair that falls/past the curve of my waist.

    Very lovely image here. And there are others here. Really like this though I see it pared down. More concentrated. Like where you go with this.

    I played violin 8 years. I was never as serious as I now wish I had been but I was a child and played more for fun than passion.

  6. This poem introduces several new ideas, things I hand’t thought of quite that way before, plus insights into the making of music. Thanks!

  7. ..very exploratory and sensitive..many thanks for sharing this..

  8. Such a beautiful, tender piece on the healing attributes of music and how your body responds to that. I truly enjoyed reading this, Lirone. I used to play the piano, still do sometimes. I wish I were better though. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day.

  9. I like these rich lines. I am a musician too (tho’ taking a bit of a break). This poem for me sparks new ways of seeing the journey I have with music. Thank you.

  10. The tenderness of this poem speaks to me. We are all fragile instruments, including the earth that sings to us all…

    Thank you, Lirone for touching us so gently.

  11. The fifth stanza blows me away. So true, so real, so honest. Thanks.

  12. Wow! The painting and poem are both remarkable and and speak on so many levels at once. Beautiful So much of this resonates with me. Too many wonderful turns of phrase to list. Well done.

  13. This is wonderful, Lirone! Having played violing way back when and taking sensual joy from its fragile beauty and sounds (usually when played by more skilled violinists then me) and loving song and singing and how it feels in the body when one sings and in seeing the sublime expression on singers’faces, this poem brings so much of the unity of the instrument and the player into awareness and presence for me. thank you. G

  14. Excellent poem and plea.

  15. A tremendously lovely comparison. I find this very powerful and grand with a lingering melody that reaches out and strums to the rhythm of heartbeats.

  16. You did a fantastic job of responding to both of these prompts. The stanza about your body as a dusty guitar was amazing.

  17. Is it just me or is there an allusion to body as lover here as well? I keep expecting that to be the way that the meaphor will develop rather than body as voice. It started with “curve of waist” but continues with “gentleness of patient fingers” and also the waves of emotion that cause a tremble and come out as sound. It is like an unmentionable sub-text …

  18. Thanks everyone for your encouraging comments – these prompts seemed to pull out something quite deep and personal so I’m really happy to hear you respond to that!

    Susan – you could be right about trimming it a bit – though there are a lot of ideas here and I wanted to give them space.

    Julie – well spotted – that subtext is very definitely intended to be there. And the waves of emotion coming out as sound are exactly what you would think they are… I may see if I can tweak the last few verses to bring out the non-musical message more clearly!

  19. I’ve now added some lines (in italics) to bring out the strand of the body as lover.

  20. I love the way you moved this from start to finish…a lovely piece of work. One which deserves more than one read. Thank you!

  21. I agree with Tumblewords… I’ve gone back over this poem more than just a few times and it only gets better and better! Lovely, indeed!

  22. Utterly butterly beautiful! Subtext was plain to me from the start… of course! 😉

  23. very beautiful. It makes me think of my poor violin and viola that I stopped playing 7 months ago b/c of having a baby. Thanks for knowing thier voice. 🙂

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