it is tradition in our house
to lay the oldest son down
& hollow out his body
for song. the dim light
of the basement wood shop.
all afternoon we tried to catch a horse
to pluck hairs enough for the bow.
running in the fields
with butterfly nets. the first time
i heard violin was when a girl
up the street laid down
in the driveway & begged to be
made a mouth piece.
her father came & played.
the notes fell as a soft snow & soon
she was transformed into an owl.
still, sometimes i see her
standing in the dead oak tree
on the corner. he carves with a knife.
two "s" holes from to reach inward.
to push through the pain
i try to think of how happy
everyone will be when i get up
& perch in the middle of the dinner table
to open every gathering with a melody.
he tells me, "this will not hurt"
even though he knows it will
& i know it will. i bite down
on a dead bluebird. the blue
is contagious & i fill with clouds
& running mice. when everything is done
we string thebow together. everyone begs,
"play something!" i feel lost inside
my own instrument. what should
someone play? what is a son?
i closed my eyes & spoke like
a wood pecker. then, a humming bird.
drinking the air. each note rung through me.
that night i hugged myself tight.
felt all the music of mailboxes
& telephone polls as they streched out
inside of me. my father said
when he was done, "you will learn."
i drop pennies into my chest
like throwing them into a well.