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Pauline Lerner

Rain and Ghosts

November 17, 2009 at 10:05 AM


... but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

From Sonnet XLIII by Edna St. Vincent Millay


I met him at a jam session and fell in love with him at first sight. Within a few weeks, he fell in love with me, too. It was wonderful having someone I loved, who also loved me, to play music with. We always had music playing on CDs or Internet radio. We had violins (my primary instrument) and mandolins (his primary instrument) scattered around the living room, and whenever one or both of us liked the music that was playing, we'd pick up an instrument and jam. He wanted to learn to play fiddle. The two instruments are tuned and fingered the same way, and that was an advantage for a beginning fiddle student. When I had students over for lessons, he would hide and listen. He said that he learned a lot that way. Of course, I gave him private lessons, too. The hardest thing for him to learn -- not surprisingly -- was bowing. It was even more difficult for him because he had an old, painful injury in his right shoulder. He was determined and persistent, though, and he gradually became better and better at it.

Then we broke up and lost contact with each other. Several years went by. Sometimes I'd get some news about him from a mutual friend. Sometimes it was sad news: lung cancer. When I looked at photos of him on Facebook, he looked emaciated, and I wanted to hug him. Tonight on Facebook I saw a rather poor quality video of him and a large group of friends jamming. He was playing fiddle, and he did it very well. I couldn't hear him individually, but his right hand posture, left hand posture, and bowing looked perfect. He must have had a good teacher, I thought.

Tonight the ghosts are back, and I feel lonely.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Oh, sorry to hear this but at least one is never lonely with a violin... it's the best partner ever and the truest of all! I could say why but it's too funny even if true so it would be innapropriate. 

Good luck,


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 4:46 PM

One night I stayed at work late, and when almost everyone else had gone home, I went to the Xerox room to copy some of my sheet music, an act which was against the rules.  Someone saw me, though, and he was a musician, too.  He told me, "No matter what your mood is, your instrument always understands."

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 5:23 PM

 : )

From Terez Mertes
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 6:41 PM

 Ooh, what an evocative title and evocative post. Truly you are a master of creating a scene, a feeling (okay, with a little help from the poet).

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Thanks, Terez.  Since you are a writer, your praise on my writing means a lot.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 9:42 PM

 I've stayed at work late to copy music too :)  It's always nice to unexpectedly connect through music.  I wish you more such connections, to help you put the bittersweetness of this one to rest.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 17, 2009 at 10:45 PM

Karen, that is a very kind wish, and I thank you.

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