artwork: john whittle
by Wilda Morris
Rumor has it the syphilitic little pagan
made his E-string from the gut
of an Italian mistress he killed
with the same hand
which holds his bow,
that he languished in jail
twenty years for her murder.
They say he sold his soul to the devil
for the ability to play
a whole piece on one string.
He always dresses in black,
head to foot, comes like a specter
floating onto the stage.
His lips disappear
into his toothless mouth.
Without the help of Satan himself
how could Paganini produce
such diabolically rapturous music?
How could he play the violin
a hundred times better than anyone else?
Or should we detect the hand of God?
~ first published in Rockford Review