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  • My mother played this harp - well, actually a clàrsach (a Celtic harp) - throughout my childhood in Scotland. On it, she played traditional Scottish folk music, and sang in Gaelic and English. She began to teach me how to play when I was ten.

    My parents divorced when I was twelve. We moved to the United States, and after a year of living with relatives, we were finally able to afford our own apartment. My mother placed the harp in front of a window in the living room. We didn't have air conditioning and, unused to the American heat, the harp cracked open one day. We tried to have it repaired: a broad metal strip straddling the two halves of the neck, holding it together. But the great pressure of the wood and the continued heat and humidity took its toll and before long, the metal strip split the wood, and that was that.

    Shortly after the harp cracked the second time, my mother died of ovarian cancer.

    It was put in storage along with a few other precious belongings. Everything else was sold. A few years later, when I finally had a big enough apartment of my own, I retrieved the harp and it's been with me ever since. I sometimes dream about learning to play the harp again, of having another harp made that I can play, of learning to sing Celtic songs. But I haven't done those things.

    The harp sits in the corner. Its cracks hold the greatest sadness in my life; it's beautiful shape, the greatest joy.
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