For Vedran Smailović, Tomaso Albinoni, & Remo Giazotto
You didn’t begin with a tuxedoed musician in the grey brick dust of the bombed-out bakery storefront ruins in Sarajevo; the cello wasn’t invented only for you, but gosh she sure has you fully figured out as she moans the Adagio in G Minor. Longing is the door to belonging, which is why, despite the rubble of my faith, I still love church music, incense, & stained glass, especially the mournful chorus of Christmas melodies. Silent night. Holy night. Through insomniac nights I’ve come to see much of my anxiety is either fear or excitement, excitement that I get to engage someone-thing new—we will talk about those things that, frankly, make me excited, like the quiet dissection of you—fear that I’m going to be let down again, that I’m going to see the world for how it really is: rubble, arrangements to make more rubble, planning stages for rising from the rubble. Seeing just how disappointing people can be. You unite us, Sadness. You are the vagal nerve & Darwin as promoter of survival of the compassionate, for after all what’s-a-picnic-what’s-communion without pathos? I want to long because I’m at my best when I’m longing. Will we ever learn to appreciate those that believe there isn’t more than this? That excuse construction of terror & sadness through construction of an afterlife instead of appreciating the small beauty of a light shaft cutting through the debris cloud? Of course, not all tragedies are my tragedy to explain, to make sense of on others’ behalf, but also, ignoring tragedy perpetuates future tragedy. We can always find an excuse when we’re looking for excuses. Loss’ lessons as journeys instead of destinations; longing morphs into belonging when we slow time, allow it to elongate, allow ourselves to find fellowship in you.
+ Inspired by Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain (2022), The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (2008), “Miss Sarajevo” by U2 (1995), Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym (2017), and “Like a Scarf“ by James Tate (1994).
Bob King an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark whose recent poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Full House Literary, Curio Cabinet Magazine, Olney Magazine, Moot Point Magazine, The Gorko Gazette, Drunk Monkeys, JAKE, Paddler Press, Aôthen Magazine, The Purposeful Mayonnaise, Spare Parts Literary Magazine, The Viridian Door, Ink Sweat & Tears, Bullshit Lit, The Red Ogre Review, The Dillydoun Review, Emergence Literary Journal, Narrative Magazine, Muleskinner, & Allium: a Journal of Poetry & Prose. He lives on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife & daughters.