Photography by Linda Lantzy

Back 40: Memory’s Anvil

Somewhere far, far out
On the Montana plains
Left in the attic
Of an old stone farmhouse
Hangs a broken-necked fiddle
With mouse-gnawed soundboard
And missing strings.

I hear it most nights.

The scored dirt floor below
Is rutted, the windows gone
There’s less and less
For the walls to be concerned about
To say nothing of the wind
Come all these miles.

Nor would I call it a dance exactly
What the faded curtains get up to
But we all live lives that beg ambition
And I’ll wager they’re doing their best
Like the unexpected rain on the roof
A welcome percussion, and the dust
That comes down from the rafters
To do-si-do.

Oh how I like to lie awake and listen
Cry a little if truth be told
Imagining the tunes that fiddle played
When the music of bare feet and thigh slap
Fought off drought and golf ball hail
Filling this old house
Not a little unlike prayer.

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