The Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry


The Cellist of Sarajevo

Tomazo Albinoni could never have imagined Sarajevo

as he crafted the notes of his Adagio.

The son of a wealthy man, he had no cares,

and devoted himself to music.

A self proclaimed dilettante,

indulging himself in beauty.

The Adagio enfolds the listener,

seven minutes of deliberate playing,

slowing the breath as the bow strokes the strings,

the celloís voice, so human,

words murmured behind a secret door.

In the Hell of Sarajevo rumors of fresh bread,

a connection to a normal world, now so far away.

They stood in anticipation, the smell so tantalizing,

as the bakery disappeared in the blast of mortar shell.

For twenty two days, one for each of these neighbors,

he carried his cello to the crater,

clad in black and white, music on the stand.

Amidst the snipers and the rubble,

playing Albinoniís Adagio for them, and for himself.

Like Orpheus, ascending on the music

from the underworld of despair.

Tomazo wrote music for the pure simple joy of it,

but Vedran descending the Adagioís minor chords,

to find the steady pulse

A precise and stately dance on

the path leading out of Hell.

Dipping into the wells of practice.

The waters of beauty seeping into his, and our, being.

Every stroke a conscious vote to return.

Each note a step on the shattered path to life.


                                                Alan Cohen

                                                April 2005