* Pipa Undressed

ambush over the now quiet river a room gleams in late afternoon sun the old cabin witness to many battles keeps sounds in cracks between its mortar she waits longingly for love or closure there is nothing else wind and dust sigh together by her window and send tiny glints of matter to rest on the sill

he enters, a warrior much fatigued falls to his knees and begins to remove his armor observes how perfectly her frets have remained in place despite his years away and her starvation strings slightly slack he begins to tune in his lap she falls against his arm he strokes and sings a much repeated ancient song there is no ownership of her left and he is now undressed

Diane Stevenson Schmolka

.* This poem was composed while listening to "King Chu doffs his armour" (Ba Wang Xie Jia), from traditional repertoire for pipa solo. It describes a tragic event around 202 BC (see http://www.philmultic.com/liufang/video/ for more information and a video of higher resolution.

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