You were five months old. New in my life.
You lay in the cot listening to nursery rhymes
repeated by a battery-operated toy. You couldn’t sleep.
When Ba Ba Black Sheep
came on for the fourth time,
you wept with what sounded like despair.
Already you had a taste for the better things in life.
From the closet I took the old guitar.
I hadn’t touched it for years. I wiped the dust off
with a cloth. Tuned up the sad, neglected strings again.
But my fingers did remember and my ears were still there.
So I played. I sang Yesterday
like a clear memory.
And there was Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence
and Presley’s Love Me Tender
. All oldies even
back when I’d first heard them myself.
In the dark you sat, propped against your baby pillows.
Wide-eyed and listening, you followed my voice and guitar,
gulping down each note. It was like nothing you’d heard before.
You were fascinated. You struggled to stay awake.
At 3 a.m, the last beautiful stanza of If
finally pulled you into sleep.
But I sat there by myself, playing on. Cradling the guitar
close to me. You remind me of things, son, that I’d known all along.
Like the sound of a simple major chord. And the way the old songs talk
of love and tell a story. I teach you words, I sing you songs,
and you teach me again their possibilities.