Cello's Teardrop Melody

"Wood is the material favoured for construction, because the alteration of the winter growth...and the summer growth of greater pliability provides the ideal 'palette' for the enormous variety of tone colours and frequencies." - from The Violincello by Christopher Bunting

When the hand that holds the bow
moves like one slicing bread or brushing teeth,
quick short notes remind the cello's spruce belly
of the birds that flicked in and out of its living branches
and the raiders who emptied the nest
built in a crotch by nightingale thrush.

When the hand drags the bow across the strings
it pulls out slow sounds the shape of teardrops
left in the grain of the backplate by migrating warblers
the maple invited to leave but wanted to hold forever,
and by winds that amputated prime branches,
leaving stubs to search on their own for light.

Only the cello can sing that song -
melody of consolation, joyful lament,
ominous harmony and stardust,
Eden self-denied - love's refrain
reached through trees life journeys apart,
forests of England and far-away Pernambucco.


by Paul Gillie


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