possesses a sound
that reminds me of the flicker of a candle's flame
in the deepest labyrinth of inner rooms
in the Alhambra in Granada,
and a tone
that makes me think of standing alone
amid the multitude of smooth columns
touched by centuries of devoted hands,
supporting the red-and-white-striped arches
in Córdoba's medival Mezquita
when I was young and yearning
for someone else to come along and change my life.
The way I have to strain to stretch
the fingers of my left hand and its thumb
into the awkward bar chords her broad neck demands
reminds me of the uncomfortable surprise I felt
the day I realized that those really were gypsies
living in the caves that spotted the arid hills
outside Granada, where I walked, amazed,
on a dusty road away from the ancient city.
The gold plating of the metal strips
beneath the machinery of her tuning keys
makes me think of the intricate baroque detail
behind the cathedral's altar in Sevilla,
extravagant and ornate beyond justification,
but like faith itself, inexplicably glad.
The mahogany grain of her back and sides
meanders into intricate patterns that parallel
each other and at the same time penetrate
and extend beyond the limits of the living tree, forgiving
the exploration and conquest of the western world.
The steel strands of her metal frets
lie as tempered, straight and true as Toledo swords
but with a purpose of tranquility and peace
beyond the understanding of sharpened weapons.
From the deep abyss of the dark round hole
at the center of her solid cedar top,
the crisp resonance of her notes
is the synchronized clapping of flamenco palms
palpitating deep from some distant dimension.
The taut flexibility of her strings connects and stretches
between the classical and the improvisational,
tying distant places and people
across generations and geography
through meditation, waltz, reflection, dance,
samba, bolero, symphonic movement and simple song.
Like a baby caressed by gentle hands,
the Córdoba guitar rests across my thigh,
presses against my throbbing chest,
and with each and every whimper and whine,
like mellow aging Spanish wine, promises
to keep on bettering and expanding my one and only life.
j a m e s m i l l e r r o b i n s o n
h u n t s v i l l e, a l a b a m a
(James Miller Robinson teaches Spanish at Huntsville High School and at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.)
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