When My Guitar Teacher Signed Up For My Weekly Poem


When My Guitar Teacher Signed Up For My Weekly Poem

Yesterday, my guitar teacher signed up for my poem,
posted weekly on my website.
I hadn’t written in a few months,
which seemed like a few forevers,
because I started working as a therapist.
Poetry requires cornfields of time
and pitchers of patience,
can’t be tucked into
a stolen hour between clients.
The combine must be topped off with gas,
the mugs should be frosty.

I do therapy the way I pen prose
lavishly, excessively, abundantly,
I do not keep to the 55 minute hour,
holding my clients hostage when I know
confessions are cresting.
Senior clinicians warn I will have to learn boundaries,
but for now my practice is like a new love affair,
the way I once wrote books until late in the night,
the way I waited until my babies were firmly
asleep until I placed them carefully in the bassinet.

At one o’clock on Thursdays,
my guitar teacher and I have an hour plus lesson,
we talk for half of it.
Music talk, life talk, getting older talk,
we muse, we are muses for one another.

Until he asks me to play
and then I am small again,
I am not the competent woman sharing a favorite artist
or comparing time management strategies,
I am clumsy, dull, unprepared.
I curse him as he says, try again, that note again,
I curse my fingers as they fumble with strings.

He guides me the way I hold clients,
small wins are celebrated,
like a metronome he demands precision.
Notice there. Pay attention here.
It is what I do with those who sit
on the couch in my office,
sometimes holding a ruffled pillow.
The third session, they are mad,
in the fifth, fantasies are revealed,
finally the deepest treasure is unearthed,
how they feel unlovely, unloveable.

I am a boxing manager at ringside toweling,
I am the prostitute who never blushes,
I am the mother whose lap is large enough.
I do what my guitar teacher must,
consecrating the music of the other,
in the way they gesture, strum, offer voice,
in their silences,
living for the moment
when the cloak of becoming is unfurled,
its clasp fastened securely at the throat,
when borrowed belief becomes marrow.
Sometimes years of nourishment is necessary.

I give my guitar teacher books of my poetry
and he asks about certain lines.
His studio walls are plastered with
portraits of fellow and famed musicians,
newspaper clippings depict him
as a rock star with black, not white hair.
On a music stand, sheets of compositions
pause for his return.

His handwriting in indigo ink is lyrical,
the note patterns still too complicated for my novice eye.
The page was once blank,
as was this computer screen,
now with arcs and straight lines.
The most honest hope of our toiling-
that another might also feel
the Hallelujah
and the Amen.