A fortnight ago I backed up Danny
on Mandolin at his school reunion,
for the lads, he says, that put laughter
and poetry in his soul in their roarin days
when Sarah ODonnell was liftin him
out of his shoes with her smile.
He charged life down to their bones
with his guitar, they all said so.
His voice charms sweet butter from the cow,
and folks ask why he doesnt
promote himself and go for the bigtime.
No, he says, I sing where the love is.
Wherever he goes they ask for his Hands o Gold.
It starts slow and reflective, like a maiden
strollin a lakeshore in late afternoon.
It picks up tempo and slips
into a tappity syncopation, then broadens
like a rill-fed river surgin to an opening on the plain.
And Dannys voice was smooth that night.
With no signal between us we played through twice,
repeatin the refrain at the end. Danny swayed,
and his Gaelic lilt had no edge at all. I felt
the music vibrate in my eyes, the harmonies
blend in my throat and did my fingers
dance on the mandolin! Sweat dripped
from Dannys jaw; he smiled hard with eyes closed.
And when we struck the last soft chord together,
the lads and their wives sat
still as a midnight pasture. Danny was bent
like a listener, breathin husky, and I saw
it was tears that dripped. Ah, Michael,
he says to me, that time we came mighty close
to doin it perfect.