Irish Seisún at Greenbriar Pub, Brighton, Ma
Teams of Fiddles, accordions,
And flutes, a banjo,
guitar and mandolin
Are held and played with loyalty and precision
In a dim back room where tough varnished tables
And rows of thick wooden chairs
Are occupied by three dozen first and second generation Irish folk
Who don’t so much as clap, speak or turn their heads
when their kitchen symphony ends.
The next song strikes up from a seeming silence
Like instant sparks from a wooden bow drill
The seconds between each tune is any man’s chance
To throw wood on the instrumental embers.
Each musician burns with the same traditional sheet song memory
Which is like tracing over an intricate face so many times
You can draw it identical when the face is pulled out from under the thin paper.
When the cloth is whipped out of this dining table
the silverware, plates and glasses are hardly shaking.
The song settles and crystallizes.
A bearded drummer enters during the music, sits and begins clapping his ‘bones’
The stubby chop sticks
The Irish castanets march the song with a story teller’s waving arms.
A fighter would envy the way he flicks his wrists w such delicacy and sting.
The lone drummer swings the invisible reins to get the fiddle mules dancing harder
He whoops and yells in the back when the measures come around
Some of the clan smiles softly to themselves,
glad to have a backbone pushing them
glad to hear a ruckus again.
Another man approaches the drummer timidly
and moves his Bodhran laying on the seat to his left.
The busy Drummer snubs
Then he sees the brother in the stranger’s face,
stops his dream vision conductor hands and brightens to him
The pack continues on humbly without a driver again
The new comer puts one leg up on his own knee and his arm around the drummer’s chair head
Their narrow eyes shine into the same familiar plane of vision
Their culture alerts their hearts in a way I wish the world could remember
A white haired man 10 years their senior turns around w a stiff neck and a broad grin
He says something about ‘soods in a boocket’ and ‘shut the front dar’
All nodding to their mutually understood wilder drinking days
That they nurse now with a
The violin bows raise and fall like firing sickles
A field of pumpjacks
And chain gang pick axes
Scythes, yo yo weed slingers on the banks of a grassy highway
The wispy broken horse hair hangs and snakes
like the shreds of hay stuck on the blade.
A large heart falls to the floor pumping
skinned fish flopping.
I look closer to see its three hearts stuck together at the tips
Forming a single clover.
I want to kick it off the dusty floor or put it away
But its dancing to the factory whistle music
Like a kettle top dances to boiling water
Like a rock dances atop a quaking sifter.
So much delicate strength
at the end of these fading tales
At the fingertips of their sound
Their violin strokes cut me open
Without ever scraping a nerve.