In his front bedroom, two kitchen chairs
scuffed their chrome on a sad rag-rug:
leatherette cracking, a shaky music-stand waiting
to teach the next pupil a lesson.
A shade of despair greeted me and the secondhand Gibson
that had thumped their way upstairs.
What did the man whose house it was do by day?
Even the plaid shirt he wore was mousy.
In that town of tumbleweed and nuclear engineers,
he barely spoke, that I remember.
There was nothing to say. I hadn’t practiced
enough to make my fingers bleed. I didn’t deserve
the way he’d lift a blond archtop Epiphone
inlaid with pearl to his knee and, unamplified—
lest the child napping a room away awaken—
play along. He played to some room lost along the way,
fingernails feral, feminine as a raccoon’s.
Copyright © Debora Greger
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.