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Partita for solo violin.

By RUBY TUROK-SQUIRE.

I. Allemande

Sound, I know you live
on silence — when you open
your own lips and let go
of the air, it is what rushes out.

Let me pull it back into your lungs
along my bow, until
I can see you again, with these
eyes I cannot close.

II. Courante

I have arrived at a string.
I bend it; it opens.
A new ground

grows up around me,
as if all the sides of my skin were feet —
I run out there.

Four rivers line this ground,
running rapidly uphill.
I must sing a map

to the ear inside my head,
until my fingers hear where to find
each molecule of the water.

Overhead,
a long thin sun
strokes back and forth.

III. Sarabande

Here, so carefully,
I almost think time
is what I am pulling

into being —
time, a form of air
I have not yet seen through —

violin, why must we look
over my shoulder —
not the whole way, not enough

to invite the past in,
but enough to stand it on the threshold
of my ears, wanting an answer?

IV. Gigue

When the flickering transfers to the fingers
the eyes
go out, go out of their small rooms
into backgrounds beyond mine —

if I open them then,
coming towards me are four
flesh-coloured ants,
recognising their own paths.

What are we building, with this saw
that performs the action of cutting
as if that is enough,
as if nothing has to break?

Hand it to me again, I will not believe
it is one length —
too often has it never ended,
or disappeared at once.

V. Chaconne

As the arms breathe,
the dark inside
this wooden shell

begins to do other than grow light.
Once carved,
centuries became the soil

through which its tone reached
deeper, wider:
what happens when the dead age.

Low notes push on my chest;
they ring there, saying
we are who you are.

I, I am the fifth string,
tied here at my neck.
Music presses its fingers into me;

I lean into a passing
note, away
from where it went, circling

the spine’s rod
in a slow wind
I do not feel on my skin.


Ruby Turok-Squire grew up in Cambridge, UK, and studied music composition and English literature at Oberlin College and Conservatory, USA. She is currently traveling around the world as a Watson Fellow, studying the music of animals. Her first pamphlet, including “Partita for Solo Violin”, will be published in January 2017 as The Phantom Fundamental (Lapwing Publications, UK), and in the US as Silence coming up for air (Finishing Line Press).

One Comment

  1. Jean Riley wrote:

    I met Ruby on a masterclass with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke and recognised her genius then with a starfish poem and I look forward to hearing more from her.

    Wednesday, 5 July 2017 at 10:33 | Permalink

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