In musty basement dark
of that old house upon the hill
an old man finds a tattered leather case
(dimpled faux-finish, I now see)
caresses it as though it were his lover,
while I stand by and watch.
Gnarled hands fumble
at a rusted clasp that keeps
the contents from intrusion.
In spite of trembling that I know so well,
unwanted company of his later years,
he eases the lid on its loosened hinges.
Pungent aromas escape to fan
familiar once-upon-a-time remembrances
of when I was a child.
Images flash forward,
rape my ears, my eyes
and cold smooth surfaces, my touch,
so that a melding of sensations
hurl me back in time
to when I sat in expectation,
and listened to the quiet.
He brings the contents now to view.
No longer does she gleam,
yet there beneath patina tinged with tarnish
I smell music.
Clutching her now against his concave chest
he shuffles rhythmically across the room,
remembering, no doubt those evenings
spent upon the porch in twilight murmurings.
Once settled in between the cushions
of a tattered, dusty chair
he raises up the precious object to his lips and blows.
Diminished breath invades her inner being.
But I am overcome by remnants,
not of sound, but scent
that lingers still within the archives of my soul
in saxophonic exclamation.
This is an older poem, which I hope will lend its title to my next collection of poetry.
I’m linking this to The Bardo Group‘s Writer’s Wednesday which I’m hosting tonight with the prompt for sensory description. The prompt will be available tonight at 7:00 PM PST.
smelling, seeing, touching, hearing, remembering… this is a sensory feast. beautiful, Victoria.
This is a beautifully crafted poem, Victoria! I adore the line “I smell music”… soooo powerful.
oh i could feel this…and hear… and smell… i have to go and get her out that box and play a bit…
mm nice….you capture him really well…i can see him….you also fill that space between you and him with a lot of familiarity and emotion….it flows over to your reader as well…i wanna hear….smiles….
Your beautiful poem reminded me that I no longer have a single musical instrument left in the house,unless you count my voice, which is not as reliable as it once was! All given away in the downsizing. A Big chunk of my life is missing.
There are some really wonderful lines in this one, Victoria! One of my favorites: “In spite of trembling that I know so well /
unwanted company of his later years,” You brought us along with you into that moment. 🙂 I can relate – my grandfather used to play a mandolin and it’s the one sentimental object I have kept to remind me of him – I love how you used all the senses in this one – perfect for your prompt! Thanks so much for sharing.
You brought those memories to such vivid life, Victoria…with a unique perspective through the instrument itself and its aged master. When reading this my mind went back to my brother’s playing of his trumpet and was reminded of its smell and the sound of his fingers on the valves.
The hands in the photograph you selected are fittingly dramatic as a complement to this poem. The sense of wafting nostalgia is almost overwhelmingly sad but so true. Don’t we all feel this way?
Well done, Victoria, and as always: Thank you for your contributions to The Bardo Group. You make us proud.
P.S.: I like “Keeper of Memories” as a title. I like the promise in it.
I spent a year when I was young trying to learn how to play the saxophone. There’s some magical about them and your poem.