One of the most interesting things I ever found was a tiny harmonica on a chain at Tuolumne Meadows, embedded in the sand bank, close to the Tuolumne bridge that traverses the Tuolumne River. The one-inch harmonica lying in the sand, attached to a tiny chain, sported four tiny reed holes. I tested the sound, a resounding and high-pitched tweedle–which added harmony to the river burble and the distant murmur of a pair of lovers’ voices dangling over the bridge. I gave the harmonica away, and then got it back and promptly lost it somewhere. Some things continue to want to be lost. The memory of my friend who passed away, fellow poet Julia Holzer, is intertwined with that harmonica. She was with me when I picked it up. She has been lost to the river of sky, no longer with us. The music of the harmonica still sings to her somewhere. Someone lost that harmonica. I wrote a poem about the losing. I wonder whose amulet it was. I wonder if they will find me through the poem. It won’t matter. The harmonica remains lost. The poem stays. If someone reads it, the harmonica will be found again, though in another form.
Side note having nothing whatsoever to do with the poem: The moniker, “harmonica” had been attached to my name, Monika, by my old Geometry instructor Mr. Flynn, who, in his darling Boston accent, would call out “harmoniker,” referring to me, while erasing the board with the elbow patch on his tweed coat and at the same time, and with the same arm, writing new material on the board simultaneously with erasing the old.
Notes by the poet on the poem, “Harmonica, ” in River by the Glass