by Wendell Berry
I employ the blind mandolin player
in the the tunnel of the Metro. I pay him
a coin as hard as his notes,
and maybe he has employed me, and pays me
with his playing to hear him play.
Maybe we're necessary to each other,
and this vacant place has need of us both
--it's vacant, I mean, of dwellers,
is populated by passages and absences.
By some fate or knack he has chosen
to place his music in this cavity
where there's nothing to look at
and blindness costs him nothing.
Nothing was here before he came.
His music goes out among the sounds
of footsteps passing. The tunnel is the resonance
and meaning of what he plays.
It's his music, not the place, I go by.
In this light which is just a fact, like darkness
or the edge or end of what you may be
going toward, he turns his cap up on his knees
and leaves it there to ask and wait, and holds up
his mandolin, the lantern of his world;
his fingers make their pattern on the wires.
This is not the pursuing of rhythm
of a blind cane pecking in the sun,
but is a singing in a dark place.