The Black Guitar – Paul Henry
Clearing out ten years from a wardrobe
I opened its lid and saw Joe
written twice in its dust, in a child’s hand,
then a squiggled seagull or two.
a man’s tears are worth nothing,
but a child’s name in the dust, or in the sand
of a darkening beach, that’s a life’s work.
I touched two strings, to hear how much
two lives can slip out of tune
then I left it,
brought down the night on it, for fear, Joe
of hearing your unbroken voice, or the sea
if I played it.
I find the whole poem strangely mimetic, as if the sonnet itself had mysteriously turned into the guitar. Its sound-box is left vibrating with emotional chords that, once touched, linger a long time in the reader’s mind. – Carol Rumens, guardian.co.uk