Taking My Father to a South Indian Carnatic Concert

I know violins
are beyond him, still I hope earth’s
tabla resonates

in his diminished
world. He sees her bow bending—
asks: Is she tuning?

Poppa, you can’t talk.
Why not? he bellows, You are.
Heads turn, angrily

as Ramaswami
attacks a slow mangalam
and I find my way

to prayer. Whatever
can mend this, let it come. Turn,
kiss his cheek. He calms.

He picks up my hand
and caresses it stiffly.
Music’s in this touch.

We face forward, two
sailors riding on the swells
of separate seas

and the violin
carves air into the precise
shape of my sadness.

David Allen Sullivan was first alerted to the power of poetry when his mother taught him Ogden Nash’s "Isabel, Isabel, met a bear…" The line "cruel and cavernous" chilled and thrilled him, and he's still working on exorcizing bogeymen and exercising his imagination by dipping into the word hoard. His book Strong-Armed Angels is available through Hummingbird Press and his poem "Warnings" can be heard (as read by Garrison Keillor) here. (dasulliv@cabrillo.edu)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761