Adagio For Strings

by Betsy Sholl

The radio’s weeping again, this time
without commentary, so it could be for anything,
these strings brought to the breaking

for those rough oceans of childhood
endlessly pulling their green carpets out from under,
till no one could stand,

for that radioactive over voice with its endless
halflife telling us the Russians are coming,

and whatever else got inside my sweet cousin’s head
with voices he couldn’t turn off.

How easy it used to be, nothing in the waves
but water, its green gray flux gently lifting us,
that sweet cousin dangling seaweed in my face,
laughing as I squealed,

nothing in the music, but backbeat and hormones,
always another station when the news came on,
another song out there stronger than static.

But once as I tuned past some jabbering smugmouth,
the knob fell off, so that know it all fear monger
wouldn’t shut up.  I was doing 60 on back roads,
and considered gunning straight for the nearest tree.
Lost in his noexit room, at first my cousin
could cover his ears and bang the walls
against those voices upping the volume in his head.

But oh you sobbing violins with your slow dissonant shiver
pulling down the towers all over again,
unlocking the room where that troubled boy hangs,

soon enough even the walls were shouting at him,
the coat rack wouldn’t shut up, there was no outside,

for him no shimmering strings
only sirens, fingernails on slate, bows shrieking
across a rusted bridge