Poem 8, 2022

The Vocalist

The rest could only imitate
what he alone
and all alone could do:
sustain, vibrate, reach
every color in a soundscape.

In the next practice room
he hears the pianist
and the teacher struggle
to paint a single hue
from black and white,
tangled fingers on keys
waking hammers hitting strings
singing nothing.

Technique enables
feeling is a lesson
no instructor has taught them.

Meanwhile the singer learns
it on his own: accepting
the grind, sacrficing pleasures
as a way of washing his instrument.

Yet on performance night,
he becomes the student,
stands in front of a crowd, croons,
hits and holds a high note,
and sees everyone in the room
as well as himself
remain unmoved.

Years of drills unable
to abate his fear of coming out
with a heart.

—Razel Estrella

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