A Poet Showed Me Round His Violin

Crabbe Memorial Competition 2018 – Second Prize
Adjudicator: André Mangeot

for GWW

A poet showed me round his violin.
He held it with a reverence all his own.
His teacher left it to him in her will.
The fingerboard is smoothest ebony.
A poet showed me round his violin.

Two types of wood, he said. The front is pine,
the back is spruce, from the Dolomites.
This maker always sought some minor flaw
in the grain he used. But it must not be weak.
Two types of wood, he said. The front is pine.

He does not spell it out, but it’s implied:
we hear a breeze within, the breath of trees
felled on a mountainside under full moon;
the gale that broke the branch and caused the flaw.
He does not spell it out, but it’s implied.

I wanted him to play but did not ask.
I had called on him to talk of poetry
and he prefers to keep to the task in hand.
He put the violin back into its case.
I wanted him to play but didn’t ask.

But then he let me hold his precious bow.
Look at the mother of pearl, the band of gold
here at the base – but please don’t touch the hair!
I felt the balance of it in my hand,
because he let me hold his precious bow.

A poet showed me round his violin.
Two types of wood, he said, the front is pine.
We didn’t spell it out but it was implied,
I wanted him to play, but didn’t ask.
Instead, he let me hold his precious bow.

Copyright © 2018 Anne Boileau

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