By Cheryl Caesar
PROMPT—During Covid-19 ...
Folk music twines. Male and female
voices close together, crossing
over, twist like threads
of a friendship bracelet.
She sings with her whole body, raising
a hand to lift her voice. Her trunk
weaves the melody from side to side, as the two
voices swell and recede, intimate as waves.
When he picks the strings, she touches
invisible piano keys.
At sixteen, I sang
folk songs with my father, played guitars.
I worried about authenticity. Could I sing
a man’s part, to “Green Grow the Lilacs”?
“She sent me an answer,
all twisted in twine…” Could I sing
of poverty, riding the rails, marching
in a picket line? Now at sixty
it has all come round again. The Civil War
has twice returned. Age and gender
are an illusion. “Tell me why the ivy twines…”
sing the contrapuntal voices.
Even the word “ravel” means its own opposite.
In the end, there is no unraveling.
Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany, and Sligo for 25 years. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and has taught literature and phonetics. She currently teaches writing at Michigan State University. She also gives poetry readings locally and serves on the Board of the Lansing Poetry Club. Last year, Cheryl published over a hundred poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, and won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for her poem on global warming. Cheryl's book Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era, is available from Goodreads and Amazon.