“For the Poet’s Apprentice” by Elizabeth Philips

Jameson has seven guitars.
What’s that like? How does he

pick which to finger
late nights alone

on his balcony? The fireflies
tumbling by

after midnight in July
they help him compose

as they circle erratically, chord
after chord, until an ember

settles, a trembling
clef on the frets of his Blueridge

acoustic, silencing his mellow
strumming, so sweet on the prairie,

yet so far from where the guitar’s curves
were fashioned from two woods,

honey blond Sitka spruce
and the dark rosewood

known variously as
Black Rosewood or Bombay

Blackwood, or Roseta
Rosewood. So many shifting

possibilities, perfect for a man teaching
himself to play, in moonlight,

with words quixotic, nimble, plucked
out of the ordinary.

A little humming helps
he finds, as he serenades

the thread of fire until it fizzles
out, spirals off into the dark,

and then he riffs with a new
lightness, a bravado

image by image until the poem
has grip, has cadence, has sung out

syllable by syllable
its changes.

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