Before it is seared into wood-wild rage,
a violin lives as both horse and tree.
Its treble cry holds memories of pulp
and root. Its sloped hips remember the race
through a leaf’s narrow veins. Here a crow cleaned
his beak; there an owl turned its neck. Even
before music, the rosin did its work—
plugged the injured bark, froze the bugs
in place, loosened and dripped in a kiln’s
rude heat, then settled into a hard pack
for the bow’s slip and slur, gliss of scree,
fine stones of sound in each long hair. Wood joined
with tall oil, rosin, and steel to hold sound:
a sun above the warmed field, a wide knife’s
slow release, a horse’s desire for rhythm,
its pounding hooves, its deep brown ribs, its haunch
and slope. A violin almost pulls itself
apart, longing for what it was, not unlike
my father as he stood by the open mailbox,
reading my brother’s first letter home.
—by Joanne Diaz
“Violin” first appeared in Prairie Schooner (Spring 2002).