by Jane Shlensky
Some of my favorite pictures live
in my head, never taken,
daydreams and could-have-beens,
where I mold what never was
into something like memory.
Perhaps you hold your old guitar,
thumbing, strumming and tuning,
the fiddle and mandolin laid aside.
Your cigarette burns down to filter,
a cylinder of ash balanced
on the lip of a saucer,
and you have that smoky, soapy,
sweaty daddy smell I need.
Perhaps I have my dulcimer
laid on my wagging knees,
longing for approval and fun.
Or maybe I have my keyboard
and feel at ease with whatever
sounds we make today, knowing
harmony is contagious.
Perhaps when you clear your throat
and look up, you will see me,
and I will know you have a song
whose words you’ve sung to me
since I was small,
something I can play on the fly,
joining my alto to your tenor,
sounding good enough
to make you smile.
(My father had a blue grass band when I was young and taught himself to play and sing. I only played with him twice in my life and wish now I’d brought this unsnapped picture into fruition more often)
Jane Shlensky, a veteran English teacher, holds an MFA in creative writing from UNC-Greensboro. Her recent poetry has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Pinesong, Writer’s Digest, KAKALAK 2013 and 2014, Prairie Wolf, and soon in Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina and Poetry Market 2015.