Joseph, A Poem by Elizabeth Copeland

music2 Joseph

Busy at his workbench,
long form stooped,
eyes narrowed,
he sands the damaged wood.

A child’s rocking chair,
dark rich walnut
intricately carved with care, long years ago
for the daughter whose birth stopped her mother’s life;
that child now grown and gone
and who cares where.

Why this sunny morning?
Why this need to repair that which was made for love
only to be discarded,
as he discarded his daughter
that bitter November day so long ago.

Shaving his thumb across the freshly sanded wood
he swears, lights a cigarette with yellowed fingers.
Standing to stretch his tall frame,
he sees the fiddle.

Crossing the room in two long strides,
he picks up the bow
rosens it with trembling fingers.
Tapping his boot to set the time,
he sets fiddle on collarbone
and begins to play.

A reel spins through the air
as dust motes dance in the morning light.
Suddenly the bitter web wrapped around his heart tears,
and the spell is broken.
Time is no more measured by mourning
but by the reel and the remembrance
of his daughter’s first cry.

Dedicated to my musician grandfather, Joseph Balfour, and to Glen Sorestad, whose poem ‘Ancestral Dance’ has stayed with me for decades.

— Elizabeth Copeland, Miramichi NB

Elizabeth Copeland
Elizabeth Copeland

Since moving to the Miramichi in May of 2011,Elizabeth Copeland has been busy as the Artistic Director of KPH Productions, designing and teaching performing arts programs for children and adults in the community. She brings to this work over 30 years as a professional performing artist – with credits that include work at the Charlottetown Festival, playing the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with the Honolulu Symphony, and touring with Second City, doing improv comedy.

She writes poetry, plays, short stories, and passionate letters to the editor. Her work has been published in Forge JournalBread ‘n MolassesSo to SpeakVitality Magazine and Aqulle Relle, to name a few. Her play – “The Spirit of the Irish” – was featured in the 2012 Irish Festival, and her monologue – “My Choice” – was recently professionally produced as part of the Wild Women Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To find out more about Elizabeth and her work,