The Music Man

The Music Man

An old man sits by the street corner

Cradling an old guitar in his weathered hands

His calloused fingertips skim over the strings

His leathery palms cup its wooden base

Between the two, man and instrument

I cannot tell which one is older.

His eyes are closed in reflection

His guitar is silent in anticipation

Meanwhile, the world waits in silence

Birds soar in the sky

The leaves whisper in the wind

And the people keep rushing by.

And then he plays

His fingers race over the frets

The guitar vibrates rebelliously

He hums

It thrums

Between the two I cannot tell

Which one is in charge of the music.

The music!

It stops the pulsation of my heart

It burns the deepest corners of my soul

It breaks the barriers within

And shatters the silence without

Earth is trapped in a sphere of symphonies

Life is paused in a glass of rhapsody

All is well within that moment of eternity

While he plays.

His voice is deep and rich

His tune is strong and thick

His heart is bleeding through the notes

His life is breaking amidst the tones

And I am pulled along

Breaking and bleeding with his song.

And then he stops.

The spell is undone.

All is as it was.

Nothing outside the ordinary

And once again he is an old man

Seated by the corner

Cradling a guitar

(Which one, I wonder, is older?)

His eyes are closed in reflection

His guitar is silent in satisfaction

The birds still soar in the sky

Silence hushes the rustling leaves

And the people keep rushing by.

Susan Piwang, first winner  BNPA, 2012, under the theme, Music. She won 500 USD and autographed copies of poetry by prolific African poets, Half  of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi, Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana and Fables out of Nyanja by Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire. She also attended the Storymoja Festival in Nairobi. The first Ugandan poets to ever attend the Stoymoja Festival were Babishai poets.

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