Before it is seared into wood-wild rage,

a violin lives as both horse and tree.


Its treble cry holds memories of pulp

and root. Its sloped hips remember the race


through a leaf’s narrow veins. Here a crow cleaned

his beak; there an owl turned its neck. Even


before music, the rosin did its work—

plugged the injured bark, froze the bugs


in place, loosened and dripped in a kiln’s

rude heat, then settled into a hard pack


for the bow’s slip and slur, gliss of scree,

fine stones of sound in each long hair. Wood joined


with tall oil, rosin, and steel to hold sound:

a sun above the warmed field, a wide knife’s


slow release, a horse’s desire for rhythm,

its pounding hooves, its deep brown ribs, its haunch


and slope. A violin almost pulls itself

apart, longing for what it was, not unlike


my father as he stood by the open mailbox,

reading my brother’s first letter home.



—by Joanne Diaz



“Violin” first appeared in Prairie Schooner (Spring 2002).


4 responses

12 03 2009
Joanne Diaz’s “Violin” « Structure & Surprise

[…] out Joanne Diaz’s “Violin,” a terrific poem that employs beautifully the metaphor-to-meaning […]

20 05 2012
Violin Music

Wow,,, This is really awesome. Joanne is such a wonderful writer. I hope you would share more of these amazing works. Though you used different words, it was absolutely perfect for violin. Thanks a lot for posting this.

20 05 2012
Mike Theune

Agreed: Joanne is a terrific writer! Thank you for your comment–

13 07 2022
Krista Mullen

Hi thanks for shaaring this

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