Neck

by Steve Edgehouse

I once had two married students from Romania, music majors on scholarship, in my freshmen comp class. She knew English better and at times would quietly, reassuringly whisper in Romanian to him when I drank too much coffee and talked too quickly about thesis statements or transitions or whatever. One day they stayed after class to tell me that the neck of his old, priceless viola had cracked a little (but just enough), and with a Toledo Symphony performance coming up that weekend, and as he wept into his large, shaking hands, she explained that they knew nobody who could give them a ride to Ann Arbor, to a specialist, to repair it. Up I-75 in my Hyundai we went that evening, and I watched him pace the music store for an hour while an old man with little spectacles on the end of his nose worked on it behind a pane of glass. When we got back to campus late that night, they went into their apartment for a moment and then emerged with a ceramic Heruzu plate her grandmother had painted for her mother years ago, and they insisted I take it, and I took it, and it now hangs in my office. I lean back in my chair and marvel at its intricate renderings of roosters and flowers every time a student in sweat pants asks me for an extension on a paper because he's hungover.

6S

Steve Edgehouse teaches writing, and the occasional writer.