FOR PETER, MY COUSIN
The night you died, I heard your cello shift —
a scraping in its corner in the barn.
Alfalfa pillowed it. White breath of pigs
was wreathed around the scroll; the cattle mourned.
For years its neck had rested by your ear.
Your bow across its strings and belly filled
the burlap sacks with apples, dusky tarns
of sound. You listened to that voice until
your marriage. Then she didn’t let you play.
Her own voice, hoarse from children, saw you lean
in longing to the shovel, hurl the hay.
She felt your fingers press the strings in dream.
Your heart collapsed too soon — you died asleep.
Beside you she heard wood and horsehair weep.
We play near aging cheese and scattered rice,
among the pumpkins, gulls and smell of fish,
breezes, clatter jesting on my face,
the jostles of the crowd and passing swish
of silk unseen. Our lines of music join
the cappuccino screams, juggle above
a pile of ripe tomatoes; seeds spill down,
and juice and music mash up in a sieve;
Mozart, the people shout. I laugh as doors
open, wind snatching notes and rumpling clothes.
Our cases on the wet and sticky floor,
the clinking coins on velvet, crumpled bills.
Beside my violin, a tiny boy
is moving to the shadow of my joy.
Notes on “Busking” by Sandy Shreve