Plucking along the curves of the sunburst electric guitar
Becomes the skip of so many grass clipping sighs
On the walk back home from her house
All those apple cores rolling back and forth across books in my bag.
The steel guitar strings now filthy with song
Like the black tatters of my favorite sweatshirt
We used to take turns wearing week after week
Until every seam threatened to unravel.
And when they finally did I sealed the shreds away
In a box with duct tape that sits now in the closet, always
Shut even though I'm sure there's still a strand of her blonde hair
Wrapped somewhere in those black folds.
It resonates on the top shelf like the high e string
On which I now play a tune called "Missed Opportunity"
Composed as I stared at the sequoia cone on my desk.
The one whose spines are shaped like so many cyclonic leaves
That glow yellow and purple in the fading light
Reminding me of watching "The Fountain" time and again wondering
If when my time comes I'll fear it
Or plunge headfirst into death with a laugh and a smile like Papa did.
The same kind of smile that accompanies a tune pristinely, perfectly played
So that one must close their eyes to better hear the strings make their ending trail.
An ending trail like ashes being whisked away by wind over a grey sea,
A thin film still clinging to the hand that threw them.
A thin film that was wiped clean with the hotel starchy washcloth
Now draped over my chair drying and smudged brown
with Papa's string bean garden arms that he hugged me with
After I played him a song on my sunburst electric guitar
For the very first time.