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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Glenn G. Coats


Customers move in and out like waves. Old and new guitars hang on the walls—all acoustics. Electrics don’t sell even with two colleges nearby. No high-end guitars. Most are made in Korea or China and bluegrass players want something homegrown. “Homegrown means more money,” the man from Buffalo Creek tells them, and most of his instruments dangle and collect dust.

He rises from his workbench each time a buyer walks through the door. Stops in the middle of a bridge repair or neck adjustment to see if he can be of any help. Some come in with armfuls of guitars and fiddles, creased and cracked, light and dark like faces. “What can you give me for these?” they ask in a time when all the tobacco fields are gone, the auction houses and warehouses closed down. The man from Buffalo Creek gives them what he can, keeps on trying to fix broken things, waiting for it all to turn around, longing to hear hymns drift through a hollow, lullabies to still the night.

light of winter
he splits one pear
down the middle

tick of pine needles
on the roof