Half the Song of Longing by Carrie Chappell


What’s that song? he asks, as a mandolin waltzes
“Tennessee Waltz,” carries a tune once carried

by a man named Pee Wee King, written by him
and Redd Stewart on a matchbox on the road

to the Grande Ole Opry. His question is likely
another. Ears hear differently


than minds do. I’ve always imagined
the song composed by a woman,

whose heart is answering
a betrayal, as songs often do, as if

in silence, until a person calls upon them.

Can you convict a melody? is what I ask,


parched of song, longing

for understanding. Must we pick up
our instruments, fingers clean

of dangerous residues? I ask/tell him,
It’s that song—“I remember


the night and the Tennessee Waltz,”
but his face shows no recognition,

appears like betrayals do, cold
as wood, speaking to nothing

in my voice, taking nothing
of my question as an answer.


About Carrie Chappell