FOR PETER, MY COUSIN
The night you died, I heard your cello shift --
a scraping in its corner in the barn.
Alfalfa pillowed it. White breath of pigs
was wreathed around the scroll; the cattle mourned.
For years its neck had rested by your ear.
Your bow across its strings and belly filled
the burlap sacks with apples, dusky tarns
of sound. You listened to that voice until
your marriage. Then she didn't let you play.
Her own voice, hoarse from children, saw you lean
in longing to the shovel, hurl the hay.
She felt your fingers press the strings in dream.
Your heart collapsed too soon -- you died asleep.
Beside you she heard wood and horsehair weep.
--Barbara Nickel, The Gladys Elegies (Cocteau Books, 1997), reprinted in Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets, edited by Zachariah Wells, (Biblioasis, 2008). This, belatedly, is supplementary material for my review of Jailbreaks in The Rover. Compliments to Barbara Nickel, Cocteau Books & Biblioasis.