Autumn Bluegrass – by Katherine Szpekman

This poem was chosen for a musical response by Featured Musician Kelsey Wells

Autumn Bluegrass

Having laced your ragged running shoes,
stretched your fifty-something body
and labored through the neighborhood
puffing like your Subaru Outback,
well past 100,000 miles.

Having walked the dog,
indulged his desire to stop,
sniff and lift his leg on every
hydrant and peeling mailbox post,
finally, you are alone with your mandolin.

She is carved from Adirondack
red spruce and figured maple,
adorned with a Florentine scroll
that curls like a lock of baby’s hair.
You cradle her; your right hand strokes her belly.

Chords and scales resonate off the hard woods.
Melodies soar in the foyer,
skim the dusty brass chandelier,
laden with dead bulbs
you know need replacing.

These are the same hands of a father
who swaddled his first-born,
“like a deli sandwich,”
her dark eyes shining and wide; flew her overhead
like feathered spikelets of Kentucky bluegrass,
waving their florets before the June harvest.

And now, another year has passed.
In the yard, the scents of wood smoke
and dried leaves hang like ghosts.
The grass lies dormant, colorless;
trees sway, empty.

Years of starting and restarting the metronome,
and still, she is gone,
has never heard the tremolo,
so lovely,
has no idea grief could sound so joyous,
so determined.

Katherine Szpekman writes poetry from her home in Connecticut. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and nursing. Her work has appeared in Red Eft Review, Sky Island Journal, Chestnut Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, Hiram Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She was awarded Honorable Mention in the Connecticut River Review Poetry Contest 2019.

Art: “Time Continuum” by Sandy Coomer - 12X12, acrylic pour on wood panel
Statement: I chose this piece because the cells seem to be suspended, floating in a space of memory. There is action and presence, but also a sort of hushed loss that is always carried beneath the surface.

Music: "Hog Eyed Man" version by Kelsey Wells
Statement: I couldn’t not choose this poem! This tune is a version of the common old-time tune “Hog Eyed Man,” which is often crooked, and has both major and minor key notes. I played it even crookeder and added more major/minor interplay to go with the poem’s mixed message of both emptiness and routine.