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The tambourine is a percussive instrument with a wooden casing, animal-skin drumhead, and a number of small metal zils. Within its circular frame, it contains an ocean of suffering. No one who has ever held a tambourine has known joy. It is known colloquially among its players as “The Pain Hoop.” It is a well-known saying among the mothers of France that it is “better to watch your child die than let her hold a tambourine.” They say it all the time. Not when you’re around, obviously, they don’t say it to tourists. But they do say it.

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like the tambourine, we exist only to be struck briefly, then put aside
like the tambourine, we are stretched tight on an endless rack 

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balsa wood, goat skin, a bit of tin
yet somehow it is heavier than the world entire

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oh, sisters
if you could see me now
burdened with the stewardship of the Grief Hoop
I had rather you saw me dead

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I play the drums as my mother taught me
slowly
and with great contempt

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look up?
why?
there is nothing to look up for
only this wreath of anguish and pine

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my tambourine, my prison
my tambourine, my handcuffs
my tambourine, my grave

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remember, girls
you cannot play the tambourine without hitting yourself
life is pain, then life is ended
strike on the third count only

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MY LIFE IS BOUND TO THE SORROW-TIRE

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I would throw it and me in the sea, if I could 
but it would crash and jingle on the rocks
it will never be silent
not even in death

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