Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Poetry
I stand,
feet positioned shoulder-width apart,
back straight like a Chicago skyscraper.
The violin,
this coy partner of mine,
perches itself on my shoulder.
My arm bent underneath the instrument,
fingers caressing its neck.
You can see neat little acute angles
form where my limbs connect
and intersect with the wood.
Just like the children in the photographs
modeling perfect posture
in Suzuki, Volume 1.

My right arm extends,
dragging the bow across
and holding a single long note.
We fall together in tandem,
the violin and I,
sinking into the rhythm and wondering
if we'll ever resurface.

Short, staccato brush strokes
slide against these strings.
The steady rhythm becomes urgent,
and my arm weaves through the vibrations
in movements that are almost sinusoidal,
but jerkier, not continuous.
Like a pendulum knocked off of its path,
trying to relocate its center of gravity.

I pledge allegiance to my craft,
and yank, shift, yank again.
With force, I push and pull at the bow,
alter the angle of my shoulder.
The violin feels foreign –
its presence burns my skin
and goosebumps start to arise.
I'm falling alone now,
submerged and still sinking,
ten feet under the crashing melodies.

Metronome can't keep pace with me,
I'm playing so fast.
But I cannot seem to forsake
that familiar black cement that aggregates in my hands
and seeps through the cracks in my fingers.
This putrid slime becomes a weight
dragging me further down.
My violin, held together by tape and glue,
starts to fracture along the sinews of the wood.

It's a gruesome sight, to witness yourself
become a monster.

These hands that have been trained to play a fiddle
yearn to caress the orbits of the universe,
to outstretch as far as they can
and disown this wreckage that sits before me now –
to cradle something bigger and brighter than
these mahogany shards that pierce the skin
and engrave it with jagged scars.

So, I stand in the mess of myself,
crusted over from head to toe in putrid gunk
and surrounded by
smatterings of shattered wood.
And the only thing that will clean me up
is if you play me like a violin.
Darling, play me like a violin,
and let the discordant vibrations sing.
Trapped in the confines of translucent beauty no more,
we speak along the lower frequencies for a change.
Slide through the axioms of string theory
to the metronome of our heartbeats.
Occupying octaves of resonance, of history.
And with every screech, something
shifts between us.
We have found our center of gravity,
and fall together in tandem.