Jo Hausam

Each one absorbed
Each one absorbed, proofed by the sounds he’s making.
            —Seamus Heaney, “Casting & Gathering”

In my cushioned chair, by the open window, I listen.

Percolating from my living room,
a resonant plunk, plink-plink, tink.
Seated on the polished bench, the tuner labors
key by key, fine-tuned to the notes.
Dwarfed in a scruffy grey sweater, he taps, adjusts, taps.
Calloused fingers, yellowed like ivory, ready the piano for melody.

I listen.
My hands soft, in my lap.

Rumbling from the neighboring field,
a dissonant gnarr, rattle, chug.
Perched on a metal saddle, the farmer plows
furrow by furrow, pitched into the ground.
In overalls and cap, kin to the soil, he browns in the sun.
Grimed hands grip the wheel as the tractor primes the land for seed.

I listen.
My hands soft, clean, in my lap.

Oh, to hear this bemusing fugue—
the tuner, the farmer—
tones juxtaposed,
scored by common chords,
a concert of counterpoint.

In my cushioned chair, by the open window, I listen.
My hands soft, clean, still, in my lap.
I make no sound.
My own tone not yet found.

Jo Hausam’s poetry and feature articles have appeared in various journals and magazines, most recently in Pentimento and Persimmon Tree. She is the author of the chapbook Step by Stepping Stone (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and recently retired as a library specialist from Vassar College Libraries.



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