Pablo Casals' hands
on the cello didn't pull me then; for years
the image remained in mind
but superimposed with the eventual blur
of other hands, Billie Holiday in her Sunday best, a clock.
A portrait of him as a young man
bears an expression both uncertain and assured.
His hand here rests almost casually
on the neck of the instrument.
Older, post-retirement pictures show a weathered grip
wielding the cello as if it had the power
to stave off rain, the Franco regime, or death.
Memory overlays the fingers one upon the other,
the expression of the skin at last as
at odds with itself as Casals' face in 1921.
Still they were an anchor-point,
alone in a strange city with nothing to bear
and everything to leave,
blurred, recognized dimly on a cafe wall,
Suite in G Major, a cappucino, you hold it to yourself,
the swell of night noises,
twelve hundred miles from home.

Valerie Polichar
The Adirondack Review.
VALERIE POLICHAR has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction, most recently in 3rd Muse and The South Dakota Review.  She has contributed a chapter to "Design and Management of Effective Distance Learning Programs" (Idea Press: Discenza, et. al, Ed.).  A singer and songwriter, she holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology, and works as computer network services manager at the University of California, San Diego. This is her second appearance in