As soon as I touch the neck, vibrations spark from six strings wound with phosphor bronze. It’s alive in my hands. The smooth wood is cool against my palm and I hoist him onto my lap. The curves, much like my own, nestle over my thigh and I pluck a string. Just for the sheer sound of it. I strum a G chord – the tough finger pads of my left hand assuming the familiar configuration – made tough by years of ever-moving constellations of flesh on steel and rosewood.
I listen. Something in the sound jars me and I sound out each string: E, A, D, G, B, E. Ah it’s that damn B string again. Reach up to the tuning peg and give it just the slightest amount of pressure and everything’s alright again. I start to fingerpick – my favorite thing to do on an old acoustic guitar when I’m alone and no one else can hear. Maybe I hide because there are so many more opportunities to fumble, slippery fingers stumble on a bum passing note. But not today. My right hand dances in a looping cadence, creating rhythm for this simple song. Pedaling bass notes on and off and on. Trickling out the higher notes. Tickling a melody from wood and steel.
Then I grasp my pick – though I might need to hunt around for one – they pepper countertops and tables and pockets throughout the house – a tiny extension of my hand. I give a big ol strumming E across this mellow kind face and he booms: This is the story I tell!
Many parts of me knew life standing still, waving in the breeze of forests in Japan. We used to taste the wind and drink the sun. Then cut down, blade in our flesh – painless but still so abrupt, tearing us from our homes. Cut some more, polished, formed and curved, brought together for the first time in a factory in Pennsylvania. Then the pressure of these six strings woven through our new body – tighter and tighter til we shiver. A warm body picks us up, new and raw, holds us tenderly, mashes some of the strings on our neck and scrapes his thumb, listening, feeling. Lo! A thrill of electricity charges through the strings and our body quivers in delight. Vibration! Energy! Music. Then locked away in a box with a sweet, soft lining, waiting until you opened us up and took us in your arms. Until you poured voice and flesh and soul into this resonant shell and told us your joys and anger, your fears and your hope. And gave us this sweet new sensation: love.
The last note of my song rings out and the sound waves rumble and tumble through my ears, echoing in my chest. I lean my head down, press my cheek against the sweet spruce and smile.