A Stringed Wing

The celestial sounds of a zither make me think of a wing strung with vibrating strings. In myths of Estonia, Vanemuine — the God of Music and Poetry — played the kannel, a zither or lap-harp with magical effects that gave birds and tree-leaves their songs. I have sung these old tunes to the sound of the kannel, or sometimes, I’ve simply let the strings of my own vocal cords spill verse upon verse into air.

The naturalistic and historic motifs of Estonia have long inspired and chained me. Many of my poems and lyrical writings hold them.

As I write this now, I recall that my mother’s earliest memories hold the quiet sounds of her father, a furniture-maker, stroking the strings of his own-made kannel as she and her brother, Sass, drifted to sleep upstairs.

Whisper, Weep or Shimmer

What makes a sound unique – her voice recognizably different than mine, a violin from a harp, leaf shudder from wind – is carried in vibrations and their overtones. The complexity of harmonics, their patterns, intensity, onset and decline bring beauty, mystery or clanging noises that make up our soundscapes, literally and figuratively – in thought and word.

I have always been captivated by these configurations. Whether with my singing voice, with vowels that whisper, weep or shimmer or with words that infer thoughts of all that is unsaid – this is the play on waves and the spaces in between.