after Caroline Harvey, for Bobby Crawford
I am 22 and I am selling my guitar. The woman I am selling it to is buying it for her husband as a surprise. She assumes I am selling a guitar for a man.
I am 14 and there is a boy across the street with no curfew, and every love song on the radio is about me. I tell my dad I want to learn how to play guitar.
18 and I am in love with someone else. I can still only make it through the first simple chords. My fingertips get sore every time I try to practice.
I am 22 and I don’t know anything more about guitar. I am selling it to a woman who thinks I am a thing to be played. That I practice, now, for man’s voice moving through me like a ravenous wind. That I practice, now, for fingers.
I am 3 and I am watching my father play guitar. He closes his eyes. He knows where all the notes live. He is playing to me, his daughter, who is named after a song.
Men have played guitar for me like it will make me fall in love with them, like I am a tune they can wrap around their fretboard, like I am a thing to be picked out with calloused fingertips, but when you are named after a song, no tune is going to succor you.
Every time I hear their clumsy fingers screech along guitar strings, I can smell my father’s guitar polish. The chords are the same but the song isn’t theirs to give to me.
I am nothing and kicking and my father puts his hand on my mother’s stomach and sings Sweet Melissa to calm me, and he knows the song isn’t his. He isn’t trying to give me anything that was not already mine. There is nothing more to learn about the guitar than that.
But sure. Try to sing to me. Take out your guitar pick and try to tell me who I am.