The Grain of Sound by Robert Morgan [source]
A banjo maker in the mountains,
when looking out for wood to carve
an instrument, will walk among
the trees and knock on trunks. He’ll hit
the bark and listen for a note.
A hickory makes the brightest sound;
the poplar has a mellow ease.
But only straightest grain will keep
the purity of tone, the sought-
for depth that makes the licks sparkle.
A banjo has a shining shiver.
Its twangs will glitter like the light
on splashing water, even though
its face is just a drum of hide
of cow, or cat, or even skunk.
The hide will magnify the note,
the sad of honest pain, the chill
blood-song, lament, confession, haunt,
as tree will sing again from root
and vein and sap and twig in wind
and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve,
picks bone and skin and gut and pricks
the heart as blood will answer blood
and love begins to knock along the grain.
See more poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology
About the poet
Robert Morgan was born in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains in 1944 where he loved music.
Originally fashioned by Africans in colonial America, modeled after African instruments. It is associated with country, folk, Irish Traditional and bluegrass music. (see Wiki, or here). The picture is of a former slave playing. (pic credit)
An earthy, soulful praise of the banjo and the blood behind our pleasures.