September 18, 2008

Scott Weaver

LESSONS

Her left hand that played Chopin
              at the faintest hint
                            hit my mouth as quick.

I sat next to her, fierce
              with another lesson’s tears
                            and promised myself

never to learn enough to please her.
              Using both hands,
                            she pried my fingers apart,

teaching me to strike
              the three distinct notes
                            of my first chord. I wanted to play

melody, not harmony, so I banged out
              unfelt phrases to feed her rage
                            and out of spite became

never more than capable.
              Fifteen years later,
                            the night she felt her death start,

I wipe bits of her shit
              from the living room carpet,
                            a pool of her mess loosed

by my botched colostomy bag switch.
              She holds the hem
                            of her nightgown, filthy

tubes blooming from underneath
              its frayed pink. She grins.
                            This is what you do with your Saturday nights?

“Apparently,” I say, a new
              blue-flowered towel
                            drying in my right hand.

Then I startle myself
              and touch her chin
                            as if she were the child

and ask if she’s afraid.
              It’s close to 10,
                            and I’m still covered in

an abandoned house’s brick dust
              from a job I didn’t finish.
                            I say I’ve learned a little

of what she tried to teach me
              and notice a slight
                            red smudge on her chin.

She turns to me
              as far as her tubes allow
                            and begins to answer

but it dies like laughter leaving a room,
              like the hum of a string
                            struck by a felt hammer.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007