Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poetry Friday

Singing Lessons

Every Sunday after supper, Grandpa
takes out his banjo.
A rush of music fills the empty air
like a flock of blackbirds—
and he asks me to sing.

Together, on the porch swing, we sing.
Sitting there with Grandpa,
our song calls out to the blackbirds
while his fingers fly across the banjo
sweetening the air
with family music.

As sunlight turns to starlight, the music,
the laughter, and the bright way we sing
warm the chilly air.
I slide closer to Grandpa,
one with him and his banjo:
"Bye, bye blackbirds."

We serenade the blackbirds.
The fluttering sound of music,
strumming the banjo,
and voices that need to sing
surround Grandpa
and me in ribbons of air.

Protecting us from the cool night air
like a nest wrapped around two blackbirds
covers me in music
teaching me to sing
even when there's no banjo.

A worn out old banjo,
the taste of words soaring through the air,
a chance to clap my hands and sing,
cherishing a gathering of blackbirds,
the freedom of music:
gifts from Grandpa.

Just an old banjo and some blackbirds
replenish the air with music
as I sing, still, for Grandpa.


  1. Oh, this is lovely.
    My Poppy used to sing -- no banjo, just the organ or the piano, or whatever keyboard was available. He loved to sing for me, because I would sit for hours and stare up at him, mesmerized by the fact that he could turn about eight chords into ANYTHING.

    How I miss him. Thanks for the memory.

  2. This is a wonderful poem celebrating music and celebrating a grandparent!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Love the lines: while his fingers fly across the banjo/sweetening the air . My husband has just taken up the banjo. While his plinking doesn't yet sweeten the air, his enjoyment is a celebration.

  4. Thank you Martha, Kelly, and Tanita for your comments. My grandfather loved his banjo and always wanted me to sing with him when I was little. He's been gone for 37 yrs. now, and I still miss him.