Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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To Get Here Today (a piano)

To get here today I pulled leggings on,
and a dress, made oatmeal and coffee, cut fruit,
then walked back and forth before a book
bag in the living room into which I knotted two
amulets against suicide for someone I love—
a flat stone Karel drilled a hole into
before he died (having lived in the school
janitorial closet in lieu of a nice monastery cell
because of the communist government)
which I’d found escorting forty Czech children

up and down the coast of Spain, and a black round
of coral my ex-boyfriend’s mother had given
me after she lost her other son—and walked-run
to the bus with them and the gargantuan Norton
Anthology of American Literature (Shorter 7th Edition)
because I’m teaching Fitzgerald, and The Dream
of a Common Language because I couldn’t seem
to find my Audre Lorde and I wanted to send
her something beautiful and surviving, not
something that dwelt only on the pain, but

that explored a way out; someone who knew
(to kill oneself doesn’t require, though,
a disaster) what pain can do.
No books composed by suicides. No
Deborah Digges, no Paul Celan. To
get here I walked to the bus stop planning how
and when to explain where babies come
from, for my child’s already asked  . . . and I thought,
I’ll tell her in the summer,
for I’m a single mother.

To get here today I lined my eyes with dark sky,
filled in with moss green, and in the crease,
stone. In the street I realized my leggings
were on inside out. I quartered a kiwi
and halved a passion fruit, for I love the feel
of infinity in the sandy crunch of seeds,
and the viscosity of the other’s jelly reminds
me of the frog egg clouds we used to find
as children in the pond in Texas. We’d slide
them into the claw-foot bathtub that sufficed

as a cow trough, caress them saying caviar,
by which we meant luck and money, the stars
that hung over the house in the dark,
and which I’ve not had in ages. Today I rode
the #56 bus down Derech Hashalom,
to Aluf Sade, and just past the stop
where the soldiers get off, I noticed someone
had painted the white wooden slats of his fence
black at even intervals, turning his
privacy into a piano again.  

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