Hollow, like a tunnel-boned bird,
the cello is held securely by its neck
while one hand twists the tuning peg,
evoking a shrill, sharp sound.
From the farmhouse
an ill-fated rooster calls out,
ruffling its feathers bathed in dust
and inflicted with sickness.
The cellist envisions red, unblinking eyes,
the curling of armored toes,
the tangled tongue
swiveling in a limp throat,
saturated with red and rosin—
and plucks the snapped string
while it is still warm.
Read more of Tessa Livingstone’s featured poetry in Portland Review‘s Winter 2016 issue.