Walking the streets of Staunton, VA
after an Ellis Paul family concert,
we wandered into a music store—
with string basses lining the long far wall
all the way to the back of the store.
All used, light woods—dark woods,
scuffed, nicked, polished here, not there,
some cracks, even some holes.
And one, at the front,
that was aluminum—
looking out of place amidst all the wood,
so shiny and reflective,
but essentially in place nonetheless.
A few cellos on the back wall,
and the other long wall full
of hanging guitars, banjos and mandolins.
While we were browsing,
a man came in off the street,
took one of the guitars off the wall,
started tuning it.
The owner came out from the back,
picked up one of the string basses,
and then they were into “I’ll Fly Away.”
Another man came in and was handed the guitar.
The man who had been playing it
took down a mandolin.
We stayed in that store
much longer than we had anticipated.
They were, after all,
giving away the ends
the means to which …
the instruments for which, as it were,
they were selling.