In fourth grade I wanted to play cello,

but my brother told me to play with you instead.

I didn’t love your shiny and metallic voice,

but you weighed less,

you suited me better,

you fit snugly into my childlike hands.

I remember how much you meant to me in sixth grade.

You taught me how to listen to others,

how to let my voice ring,

how to sing.

In eighth grade I knew your voice.

I learned how to manipulate your pitch with the pegs,

how to match your tone to the drone of the tuning fork,

how to find your voice in every instrument.

But the more I knew you,

the more I wondered how long I would hold onto you.

In tenth grade your voice was clouded by petty qualms and competition.

After leaving the practice room and entering the stage,

I drifted from first chair to fourth

as the others continued to fight for prestige I didn’t understand.

Everyday, I set up the seats for rehearsal

the next game of musical chairs,

the conductor only controlling the tempo at which the game was played.

Everyday, I took you out of your bed and held you,

wiped the dust off your Mahogany skin,

rosined your sticky blonde hair,

just trying to pull what little sound was left

before I locked you in your ugly green coffin.

I slowly let go of you in twelfth grade.

I’m sure you knew when my fingers started lagging;

when your pegs started unfurling spontaneously and you could never stay in tune.

When the songs we sang had nothing to say

and our voice brought nothing to say about it,

I knew I needed to release you.

Sometimes I wonder how our life would have been

if I continued to let the calluses on my fingertips harden,

if I kept sitting back straight on the edge of my seat,

if I let the bruise you left on my neck darken,

if I held on.

You may have become too heavy for my childlike hands,

but I hope the person I gave you,

the girl we met in front of the bookstore who barely knew how to hold you,

the girl who begged her mother to drive hours to take you home,

the girl I gave you to,

pours everything out of herself

to unlock what was sealed within your body,

unravel what was woven into your core,

and release your voice.

My body has finally healed from your scars,

but your sound still resonates in my spirit,

your sound is still part of my voice.
Sam Lee’s poem “To Ezra, My Violin” won third prize in the Seventh Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Sam is a freshman BFA Design major. Her short story “A Story From the Sidewalk” is also published in this issue. Sam is from Columbus, Ohio and has a dog named Mochi who is her personal muse. When Sam isn’t doing design work, she is working on her small clothing brand (@oofofficialoof), eating snacks with friends, or contemplating what to cook for dinner.