Sympathetic Vibrations

Meg Tyler

The clematis vines into its top knot of magenta,

each petal as bold as the arm of a starfish.

My child, his attention unfixed, strokes the white keys

of the piano as his violin teacher opens the hutch


to feed Attila the Bun. The mimosa flowers in the garden

color the air like the notes she will teach him to play: E, F, C sharp.

Her gentle alertness, my son’s shifting gaze and sudden

movements from instrument to instrument, the bunny’s


delicate awareness registered in his whiskers, as long

as his body is wide. Sympathetic vibrations, she says.

The conversations between them: A to D string, teacher to child,

the sound waves that keep his large ears upright.

Meg Tyler

Meg Tyler directs the Institute for the Study of Irish Culture at Boston University where she is also associate professor of humanities. She is the author of a book on the poetry of Seamus Heaney, A Singing Contest: Conventions of Sound in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney (Routledge), and a chapbook of poems, Poor Earth. Her poems and essays have been published in the Kenyon Review, AGNI, Literary Imagination, the Irish Review, Salmagundii, and other journals. 


The clematis vines into its top knot of magenta, each petal as bold as the arm of a starfish. My child, his attention unfixed, strokes the white keys of the piano as his violin teacher opens the hutch to feed Attila the Bun. The mimosa flowers in the garden color the air like the notes …

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