Claire Curtis Violins

On Playing the Habeneck Strad

poem by Guy Gallo
Copyright 2000 by Guy Gallo. Used with permission.

I was not prepared
I expected terror —
Lineage bearing down —
To cramp my hand.

Yes, I dropped it over and over
For a second, imagined splinters
About my feet. I didn't clutch.
It wouldn't let me.

Then it was there, lodged
On collarbone, and so light
As if Berlioz' ghost had taken
Some fraction of the weight.

How long, I wondered,
Since this tender conglomeration
Of wood and physics
Had suffered so rank a beginner

Surely there was once a child
Or a fat aristocrat
Or an awkward curator. And
Now there was me.

I played, so badly, and still
It thrilled even to my touch,
Inviting, amused, clear-toned
Smilingly unforgiving.

New York
October, 2000

Yes. This is exactly how it feels to hold, to play a legend. Thank you, Guy.

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