Rosin: a gem, a jewel, a talisman, a cylinder of translucent gold wrapped in velvet, the perfect size to pocket, to palm, but really it’s sap, it’s just sap.
Without it, there’s no sound, a bow flailing uselessly over strings. With it, there’s friction, there’s grip, a vibration descending through the bridge to the soundpost, amplified by the body and out through the f-holes: a whisper, a shriek, a voice.
Rosin: slick as glass, but if you touch it your fingers stick, and when you stroke it along the bow hairs, they turn white with powder. Alchemy? Magic? Don’t touch it, your teacher said in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, but of course you did, you do, look at it, how can you not?
Tonight you should be practicing, but when he knocks you open the door, you let him in. He carries a bottle but he’s drunk already, you can tell by his eyes, that sloppy grin. You set the violin in its case, and the bow. Rosin, unwrapped, on the music-stand ledge. The stand wobbles, most of them do; you wanted to tighten it but didn’t have a tissue to protect your fingers from the grease around the nut, so later, you thought, you’ll fix it later.
But my girlfriend, he’ll say later.
Rosin: rock hard yet surprisingly brittle. Tomorrow the glee club will trample the remnants, sticky fragments crushed into the threadbare rehearsal-room carpet, beneath their Docs and mocs and Crocs, to slivers, to powder, to dust.
But tonight, tonight it’s there on the stand, the stand you thought was sturdy enough. You look up at it as you lie beneath him on the floor, smelling beer and sweat and, faintly, pine, and you think of sap, of amber, of something preserved for all time, the life and blood of this thing between the two of you – It isn’t love, he’ll say later, without looking at you, the last time you speak – captured in its honey-warm glow. Teetering on the edge before an outflung arm – yours? his? – bumps the stand, and it falls, and it shatters.