Cat of Nine

In a cafe on a blissful Madison spring morning.
I sip coffee and poem peacefully.
A harpist sets up his hand-crafted instrument,
intricately carved, and he plays with his heart on his sleeve.

Spying his technique from the side,
I see calluses, thick pads on his fingers
as he deftly navigates the strings
to bring forth delicate melody.

His other hand surely must bear the same scars
of practice, of pursuit of that elusive
perfection – real musicians know
it’s ever out of reach, but the muse still coaxes us on.

I look again at that other hand;
he has only four fingers. He’s a vet
who lost his ring finger in combat but
chose beauty over bitterness on his long road home.

See nine strumming fingers thrumming Celtic chords.
Watch the strings continue to vibrate as sound reverberates.
Feel his joy, throw a few bucks in the tip jar,
and take that love with you as you leave.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
(Poetic Asides prompt: On the Other Hand; also posted at Poets United.)