States of Poetry Series Three - ACT | 'The violin' by Paul Munden

The violin

perched, slack-strung,
on the dark wooden sideboard
of your Palermitan apartment
opposite the cathedral,
a gift you didn’t yet know
how to tune, let alone play.

Your guests ignored it,
heading straight for the plates
of cheese, olives, bread,
and wine in plastic flagons
from the market, music
flowing from an amplified phone.

Smokers braved the narrow
stone balcony high above
the lines of traffic crawling
between Porta Nuova
and the sea, chains of lights
sparkling in the dusk.

Pigeons on the clocktower
became gargoyle silhouettes.
The occasional miniature
dog was lowered in a basket
from a creaking pulley
to the pavement for relief.

I wondered what else
I had failed to teach you,
and what that mattered,
watching you thread
the multilingual party
with such intuitive skill

while I, tongue-tied, retreated
to a corner with the poor violin,
turning its stiff pegs
until the levelled strings
could be at ease
with their silence.

Paul Munden

Paul Munden

Paul Munden

Paul Munden has published five collections, most recently The Bulmer Murder (Recent Work Press, 2017) and Chromatic (UWA Publishing, 2017). He was reader for Stanley Kubrick from 1988–98, and has been Director of the UK’s National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) since 1994. He has worked as conference poet for the British Council and edited Feeling the Pressure: poetry and science of climate change (British Council, 2008). In 2015 he took up a position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canberra, where he is also Program Manager for the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), running the annual Poetry on the Move festival. He is Associate Editor of Axon: Creative Explorations and the literary journal, Meniscus, and co-editor with Nessa O’Mahony of Metamorphic: 21st century poets respond to Ovid (Recent Work Press, 2017).