Violin

Madeleine Oliver

If you were an instrument, you’d be a violin
Polished and gleaming,
notes clear and gentle.
The distinct hum lingers in the air
a moment longer than expected
with the warm taste of empathy
sinking through the careless carpet
down through the cheap concrete.
But before you can be forgotten, you rise again,
eloquently sculpting the mud of our minds,
twisting and smoothing without hesitation
until you look up, as if to ask permission,
but it’s unnecessary.
We want to hear you tell the end of the story,
we want to listen as your voice explains,
the doubles back to elaborate,
like an inefficient chain of train cars
driven by a world-class mariner.
The photograph develops with each brushstroke,
but it’s never been exposed to light,
only the sound of the bow sliding into chasses across the strings,
a final port de bras before the roses are thrown
and the violin is laid to rest.