The strings on my big brother's guitar
snapped at my hands when I first met them,
bit into my soft and quivering fingers
and droned, or rattled, with muted irritation.
Their disdainful murmurs:
only the strong can hold us tame us
make us sing - silly little girl,
what are you doing?
Briefly, I wondered the same.
I pressed and pressed on,
an agony of buzzing half-chords,
nails faltering across the strings
like young sparrows stumbling in flight,
my tender skin sloughing away, molting
so reluctantly into firm callus -
every now and then, the sharp light
of a clear note sprang forth
to steady my trembling hands, and so
I pressed and pressed on.
Soon, in the dark, smooth body
of the guitar, I discovered the deep echoes
lingering restlessly there and straining towards
my brother's bold voice.
Brazen with excitement,
I began to unleash them, but
slowly, sweetly, like the whisper and burble
of a creek in winter,
an attempt to mold the audacious sounds
around my own quietness,
and with the mounting strength of my fingers
I tamed the wild, loud thing a little,
though I knew it rumbled most happily
in my big brother's hands.
Someday I'll meet six singing strings
that are happy to meet me.
Their bites will be kisses under my fingernails,
their humming flares of bright clarity
as my hands fly strong and true
to fill that wooden body with gentle dreaming -
some days, then, I'll play hard and free,
so it knows the story of these scornful
strings on my big brother’s guitar,
that laughed at first, but patiently shaped
my feeble fingertips until they tapped
and slid and fit, like tiny magnets
finally finding steel.