Consider a heart as this cracked violin
this instrument of various parts
does it matter where it’s from? Not descended
from noble European houses, it has not played in Marseilles
no craftsman in Italian baroque
leaned close and breathed genius into the grain.
My fiddle is a metis fiddle
but not Metis, not from Red River
and i don’t know that jig.
This fiddle is a northern song under wings of Borealis
dad at the kitchen table, figuring it out by ear
back it up, back it up, my girl
move the needle on the record, play the same phrase
over and over ‘til he could scratch it out, and then
he’d work it on his own, make it part of heart and fingers
the voicing of Townsend and Landry
Don Messer, old Volrath and King Ganam, too
King Ganam revealed by internet as Amir
by first name, a long journey in his adoption of Canadian
style of the music of this cold land.
Listen to King Ganam now, to see
if you can hear some Lebanese
inflection, down beneath Ontario
the way i remember as woodlands
my father’s voice and playing. It wasn’t just
that tobacco cracked and tightened
his throat, it was the years of dark
his own father’s death and the immensity
of that, when confronted with the mysteries
of fatherhood, his own rage sometimes
overwhelming love, guilt and darkness, broken pieces.
Every player carries place, slant of sun
lessons and teachers. Those woods
rest far behind, and this fiddle came to me
in a parkland city, in a context whose rays
of interconnection hold to other centres.
We are what we turn out hands to;
this fiddle waits for my will to use, or let rest
my lessons, of life, friendship, adulthood.
Fiddle tunes are simple, usually
wrought on three chords and the dance
between one four five
one, the root, foundation, key
four for the lift, five for the turn