Poem of the week: The Cretan Lyre

A new work by Louise C Callaghan

Antonis Stefanakis, instrument maker, lute and lyre. Photograph: Getty

Antonis Stefanakis, instrument maker, lute and lyre. Photograph: Getty

 

From forest to workbench: a carver
with a chisel chips and shaves away,
shaping hardwood cedar. Curls fly up
and fall to the floor. A lyraki fiddle
is all of a piece. Once carved it is hung
to dry and for the wood to darken.
A bow-maker chines a bow from
pernambuco. The lyre is threaded then
with three strings made of horsetail.
Ready now for the high melodies,
it is placed vertically on the knees,
longneck resting on the player’s heart.
The first ripples of sound, our arms
and shoulders rise level: Zorba’s Dance.
We start to move in a circle like trees.

Louise C Callaghan’s latest collection is Dreampaths of a Runaway (Salmon 2017). A new book, Moonlight: A Full Moon, is forthcoming from Salmon.