Stone Telling

[HOME]      [ISSUE]      [ARCHIVES]      [ABOUT]      [GUIDELINES]

Ballad Breath

by Peg Duthie

sometimes it reeks of mustard
of vinegar settling into the veins of weeds
of onions slyly creeping into tulip beds
of crocuses painting warehouses inside out

sometimes it's telltale tight
as the shoulders of a student
fourteen leagues out of his league
willing Fortune to flush itself
into the cheeks of his Jack
the stink of almost-sweat
silently darkening the alcove

a song of the coffee beans
condemned to perfume-shop ramekins
a song of the speck of rosin
flying from the fiddler's bow
into a plume on a fascinator
a song of a quilt
washed with undue haste
to undo the nail-scent
of fevered fondling

the different of speech
are made to walk
invisible planks
shoe-treads streaked
with the grease and grime
of outskirts and spokes

conjure winds
call on wishes
neither can mask
where your tongue has been

so here
is a harp
with slippery strings
all its notes the net
for what you cannot help
but sing

Peg Duthie is the author of Measured Extravagance (Upper Rubber Boot Books, 2012). She shares an old house in Nashville with a motorcycle mechanic and a haricot-hoovering hound, and there's more about her at NashPanache.

Photography: adapted from dance, by Tim Pierce.