For Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
In a black house dress, hunched over that full-bodied
blonde guitar, her strumming is persistent, her rusty hair
sways over pale skin, and she keeps time with her right foot—
cowboy boot twisting out mythical ashes.
Her high-lonesome whisper calls to me a gospel
ready-made for my ancestors buried in Wisconsin soil,
ready-made to direct me to grace.
His nasal vocals fall not behind or in front, but receive hers.
A grey-suited marionette shaking loose the strings
on his parlor-sized archtop, his toes staked to the wooden stage
while his body rolls with electricity. With his eyes closed
under thick brown bangs, his long delicate fingers
wrench and press the bronze strings so far
down the neck it is nearly a sin.
Sing to me again, that line of Lazarus waiting
behind the window shade to reveal his scars.
Pull me through that hymn book so worn,
so thick with devotion, filled by allegory and melody.
And I'll sing, I'll testify to this haunted pair
on the bare stage in a white, domed marble hall
as still as a mausoleum.