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Bouree or The Cellist of Sarajevo
I thought, when they killed my brother,
It would be enough.
Twenty-two men, their skin half-melted from their faces.
I could hardly tell him from the rest.
For this I could have but one revenge:
Twenty-two days I play.
The last is his.
I can feel the wood breathing.
It can sense the mounting buildup
Of powdered ambrosia.
It is alive
Between my fingers.
Its shape, swollen and bruised where it pressed against corners,
Reshaping itself that it might burst free,
Sending fragment splinters of its chains
To bite through the mortal flesh that imprisoned it,
Synchronizing its pulsing beat with the shots around me,
The tempo my heart beats out as I
Lay the bending wood to graze the ground
Scattered in ashes of gunpowder.
Pain builds calluses to coarsen my chest.
The music is soaring free.
My soul stretches to lie shimmering across night’s clouds.
My lungs are thin and shallow and I have forgotten how to blink.
The explosions around me play a dirty percussion to my melody
I have nearly forgotten what I play for.
The weight of it spreads like an ink blot that I brush away.
There is a film over my eyes and it is not tears, now,
It is golden and blue,
And the music is seeping through my veins,
Making my blood purple of sighs,
Replacing the bitter with velvet freshness.
My arms are graceful willow wands, my fingers pressing against
Strings of wire that kiss my hand.
The kiss planted against my brother’s fated cheek
Was the kiss of skeletal death.
I breathe out his life in music,
Billowing out in cotton, cold, sweet clouds
Out through my ears, my nose, my
Until with one, lingering note of vibrato,
It is over.
And I lay the bending wood to graze the floor,
Twist his rosary around a bouquet
Gold fades into yellow, orange, red of vengeful fire
Blue becomes the sky, dark with the smoke of hate.
Feel the thump, thump
Of my beating heart
Carrying its tempo
Into my personal eternity
As my brother