I play the cello and wrote this after a lesson. Having lessons again after 40 odd years of playing has been an unfolding of layers of tension – as with all expressiveness, including poetry, art is to be found in relaxation. I know my poems try too hard but relaxation is not to be found in some sort of vague mental state but requires hard won technique. Hence the title – my teacher had been encouraging me to soften the knuckles in my bow hand.
Eyes closed to hear the smooth line of the song
Drawn out of the afternoon from nowhere.
Hanging in a silence that you could touch,
It winds its way past all analysis
Along the skin and through the veins, gut bound
Softly resonating, in sympathy
With the life we hoped to live.
Its perfection haunts the life we truly
Live, lumpy and pock-marked as it appears
Under the cold unsentimental gaze
Of the watcher within. But I must search
For the origin with my hands at ease,
Gently stroking the string, the vibrations
A caress inside my palm.