The first time I read Jacob. L. Freedman's poem, My Favorite Piece, which was published in the Spring 2015 Intima, I thought Freedman had meant that the physician father had played his violin during a bone marrow transplant but then realized he meant that he played a recording. Like my word "tense," "played" has multiple meanings. Play the instrument, play the CD, play h&p with teddy bears on the kitchen table. Tense the adjective, tense the verb, and both different from one tense or another, as a piece of music differs from a piece of bone with its marrow, I am angry you died, can you tell?
A piece, music and piece, part of body, maybe not really bone or marrow but not the whole, and doesn't piece sound like peace? Peace in the valley, maybe, or the grave and we are back to my piece. Tense is like a violin string, taut, or is it "taught me to love the Brahms D Major"?
"Forget the hunting horns, it is a middle class conceit," you said. "And think about sliding down the E string at the beginning, just tense enough not to sound fiddly, but not too tense, spiraling your finger down the fingerboard like the bone marrow aspiration needle into the pelvic bone. Can't use an electric drill for this, too much heat and torque, you want a neat hole not a splintered iliac crest. It takes muscled arms like Hilary Hahn's, like your muscled back now turned to loam. Even though it would not end alle zusamen, all together, in an hour exactly, and the twins would have been in different rooms and who knows how you would decompose in a decade embalmed inside a casket inside a vault?
The beginning of the second movement is what's important, falling, spiraling down, and maybe I still catch slipping glimpses of you and still hear little breaths of you in the night, your inspirations, and maybe I don't and maybe both twins are alive and maybe they aren't and maybe a daddy teaches his kids to do a teddy bear physical exam and maybe he doesn't and maybe you still inhabit my head and maybe you don't but the Brahms is no maybe it is real. If your child blows into your stethoscope while you have the earpieces in your ears you will hear hunting horns, I promise, possibly all day.
Annie Vinsel’s day job is at a large academic hospital, doing residency troubleshooting and surgical photography. She began writing poetry in 2013 when a congenital joint problem made it impossible to paint large scale and has had poetry and short stories published in Glimmer Train, Pulse, and COG. She wrote "Tense," Vinsel says, "on the tenth anniversary of my guy's sudden death. For a long time after he died, I had the common problem of speaking about him in the present tense, and I was interested in the two meanings of the word. Having been raised in a funeral home family, I have a pretty good idea of what things are like with his body now. It has always interested me that exhumations of people who were buried cheaply are much more pleasant than of those who received the full hermetically sealed package."
© 2016 Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine