It Isn’t All Fiddles




and honky-tonk piano, is it. Life’s
got a little more

cello to it. The rough chew of
horsehair trying to flow

through wire. The bow of bale
on woe. I know. I hear it too.

And I’m right there with you,
in the dance hall dark. I’ll

hold your hand while we wait,
if you want me to. We can

sway or not sway, either way.
These others, let them

figure every day for a jig, a thrill
of middles, a dizzy

swish of hems. As for us, our
attentions on the man

sitting stage-side, his brim low
over his eyes, waiting

his turn. Soon, it’ll rise
from its case like a zombie

and he’ll sit down beside it
with his arm around it

and with his other arm
drawn from within its dusty frame

a conversation so slowly
healing from the broken, we’ll

recognize it in our bones. Hell,
this old hall, if it could feel,

would feel it in the hewn
beams above us and below.

Don’t go it’ll say, in its
low romantic way. Don’t

go. Stay and dance some more.
But the pinao player

will have already gone
with the woman he’s had his

eye on all along, and
the fiddler player won’t know

this song, and some crew-cut boy
with his cotton shirt

wet through will scoff, Who died?
and lead his friends

off toward a quarter of town
where they’re still pouring neon

over gin. That’s when we’ll turn
to one another, won’t we,

and wordlessly begin.
For this is what we’re here for,

aren’t we, dear. The rake of every
rust-red sound going down

with a shudder like the call
of a loon across the lake, or like

whiskey, warm and at the same
time cold.

And I’ll hold you to me
gently, move you gently

around the floor, and gently
tell you you’re all the more lovely

now you are old.