This Cracked Violin

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

appropriate

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

and resolve.

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