Feet that used to straddle the space between the F-holes
squat like peasants with sacks of groceries in each hand,
determined to stay upright on a lurching deck.
Coconspirators, enablers, your hearts carved out.
The instrument couldn’t make a sound without you
and your silent partners, the bass bar and the soundpost,
invisible beneath the belly, transforming a string’s vibration
first to the body, from there outward.
Only experienced luthiers can catch the post’s soft wood,
with the sharpened star at the end of a length of S-curved steel,
and pass it through to the exact spot
that keeps your treble foot planted while your bass foot lifts,
making you dance when the string is driven side to side.
Brass and winds can be stamped out by machines
and trumpet and crow, beep and bop.
Instruments made of wood groan and creak
through the seasons: swelling in humidity, shrinking in cold,
attachments loosening over time, prone to breakage and sudden-onset buzzing.
Strings can break with a pop and give, or grow dull.
One of you has a broken arm. The other turned out too short.
In afternoon light I look up and fifths sound down my bones.
Alison Hicks is the author of Kiss, a collection of poems, a chapbook Falling Dreams, a novella,Love: A Story of Images and an anthology, Prompted. Her new collection of poems, You Who Took the Boat Out, is forthcoming in 2017. Her work has appeared in Blood Orange Review, Crack the Spine, Eclipse, Fifth Wednesday, Gargoyle, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Louisville Review, Passager, Permafrost, Sanskrit, and Whiskey Island, among other journals. Awards include the 2011 Philadelphia City Paper Poetry Prize and two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops.