Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts
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Megan’s Guitar

by Darrell Bourque

 

for Megan Barra
after her textiles
Woman with Guitar, I
& Woman with Guitar, II 

I

You’ve curled nearly every line

in this piece you made.

You live inside a curved world.

Within the frame you’ve silked a guitar

& its bifurcation holds us to your intent:

one half of the guitar holds red dragon songs,

jazz contusions, anthems, and honky tonk tales;

the other half holds those delta blues &

spirituals & songs to go to sleep in.

In your hand nothing is clutter &

you have stitched places where wide pockets

of silence can reside side by side

with desire, what your ribs feel when

you think your heart will burst finally

& for good. The frets you’ve left

mostly outside the frame for us

to imagine. You are generous that way,

giving us a place to fix our fingers,

to move & press & make a music

given us by all these fans and the winds

bright brocade & shantung bring us to.

 

 

II

 

Bright brocade & shantung bring us to

ourselves in the way some songs bring us

to ourselves. Damask songs cross

oceans and silk songs are road songs

we sing however we happen to find

ourselves traveling. Memory sings

on denim and canvas and duck & on

fine-threaded cottons & on lawn even

if our travels are very fine travels

inside the timbre of some distant time.

The blues know no particular place

or space even if they seem to insist

that this desire measuring itself out

in singing is the only desire worth

a song. Blues hold the heart close

to what it wants and cannot have

in song time. The frets carved

& pierced we bring our fingers to

in the hope of touching who we are.

Songs are in fingers as they are

in heart and brain and belly and feet

 

III

 

& they travel wherever heart and brain

and belly and feet drag us to and will not

let us go, or get off easy. Songs of worry,

a compensation of chords to get us back

to who we are inside our dreams. People

we know live inside some songs, the old

people, brave ones, walkers and riders,

people on ships looking for some place

to be. And when we bring the guitar

close to the body as the woman does

in these pieces fashioned after song,

we can hear histories that matter to us.

The woman’s placed the instrument close

to where she breathes & it rests on a knee

perhaps. She takes to the frets for histories

we didn’t know were ours to tell, of people

we didn’t know we knew: stories of Mi’qmac

& Attakapas, of the old men of Martaize’ &

Saint Domingue, of Broussards & Trahans,

of Castilles & Babineauxs wavering like time

inside this curved & trembling world of ours.