Joshie's Bass Solo
By Ben Heath
Like semi-trucks approaching,
Shifting gears somewhere secret nearby—
Louder, louder, then
The engine cuts, noisy hissing
Evaporates into sweaty steam. Making
Space for Joshie’s enormous upright bass.
His mother sighs. The new bass’s F-holes
Look more like dollar signs.
She used to like hearing him practice in the garage,
Scraping and plucking at old strings, sound partially muffled.
Then that day
she was late to work—
Rushing, brushing teeth, grabbing
Keys coat shoes purse—check check check
Check—kettles eardrums hi-hats hissing pounding,
Check ignition (on!) In reverse, looking back, slam the gas—
The van threw her head forward, whiplash,
And she heard a terrible sound like the earsplitting crack of a falling
Tree—She looked at the dashboard. The van was in drive, not reverse—
And she looked out the windshield to see Joshie’s bass,
Still in a black fabric case, smashed between dry wall and the front bumper.
The hood is lined with tiny creases like a balled-up letter
Someone tried to save.
In the half-empty café, Joshie’s fingers
Glide and settle down. He plucks the shiny
Coiled strings of a factory polished instrument.
His solo hums
To the clatter of coins in registers,
To the soft rustle of dollar bills.
His mother never
could help thinking how much
the bass sounds
like a mosquito
buzzing the blues in her ear.