The Gypsy Violinist

The Gypsy Violinist

The crowd is held, entranced
by the music that flies
from beneath his callouses,
ironic and bitter trills
that speak of hate, and freedom,
lust and theft. He is a pro.

One of his line, a girl of twelve,
forgets for a moment the infant
slung low upon her hip, forgets
to wander from mark to mark
wheedling coins. Instead she
sways, caught up in the melodies
than swam her to sleep
so many nights, the rhythms of
Roma and the rhythm of the wagon
combining into a traveler’s lullaby.

He wings a rhapsody, culling cruelty
from a life of barred doors
and open sky, the music shining
like the gold in his smile.
His music is the gift of kings,
soaring spirit wrung from catgut
and misery, dancing in broken shoes,
singing into the face of the east wind
with a defiant howl.

The song he plays is written in roma,
as obscure as the fear they all face.
He had been taught that lesson
by life on the road until
he could play this particular score
with the broken hand of a captured thief.

But the tune brings to mind
his mother’s face, the glissando
a caress, the tempo the same one
he learned at her breast, the touch
first a caress, then a slap,
until it ended in a Gestapo grip.
And as he plays, the glittering tear
that tracks his cheek shines bright
in the midday sun, rivaling
the coins at his feet.

© Christopher Reilley 10/10

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