Three hours I fought a cello that wouldn’t tune.

Though I straightened and centered the bridge,

the middle strings stayed wound too close together –

probably a case of pegs worn thin –

so as one string strained closer to the pitch,

its mate slid slack. I’d sigh and start again.


At last I claimed exhaustion and defeat,

waking next morning to bruises on my palms

where I’d pushed in pegs with all my strength,

tender to the touch, aching near heat

or when I gripped anything too firmly,

keys, doorknobs pressing deep into the soreness.


You’d think I’d need no better illustration:

the consequences of not letting go

of what exceeds my limited control.

As if by holding tighter, pushing harder

I’d make two things that chafe and contradict

accept the proper tension. Sing in tune.


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