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Benito Mussolini’s School for Violin-Making

Read by Tory Adkisson

In the morning I will teach you once again to play
a song on the viola d’amore. Under your chin the six
strings shivering the luck of gypsies. The fingerboard
can be a neck, can be an arm extended. In place of a scroll,
you will find Eros carved and blindfolded as a mutinist
made to walk the plank. Every winter I undress quickly,
I let my bare feet meet the floorboards if only for time
long enough to touch the dust on it. I have not had many
dreams. There remains the one where, in a field of
perpetual knots — catshanks and bowlines growing
like wildflowers — a fire and its hands does not burn them,
but instead unties each in unison. I wear the apron
of a luthier. You have a bit of flour in the turn of your ear
and when the sun rises, it peels into an onion.
Oh Captain! My Captain! There is evil in my thigh
for you. My liver, the beveled muscles of my hand.
I will feed you the sugar from its jar. If the wooden
spoon is scabrous, I am the one who whittled it. But know
this: I will gladly pick the splinters from your tongue.

Sarah Crossland received a BA in Storytelling from the University of Virginia. She was a finalist for the Graybeal-Gowen Prize, and her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Shenandoah, FIELD, Unbound Press, Forge, dotdotdash, and others. In March 2011, she was invited to read her poetry at the Library of Congress for their Poetry at Noon Series. She is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she serves as the Managing Editor of Devil’s Lake.