close up of piano keys chipped with age
[ This image is in the public domain. ]

The Act of Singing

Maybe only the birds
are safe now
as they pipe up
with their dry voices
or perhaps the dragonfly
drying its mosaic wings
in silence on the door screen.
Even the fish that keep surfacing,
though so briefly—
shifting shape as they ripple
beneath water patterns and leaves—
stay far from the warm mist
of conversation. If so,
then we must keep singing
anyway, alone, away from words
projected deep or carried airborne.
We must mask and muzzle
if we wish to breathe,
play our piano solos solo
as if entering single digits
into an adding machine,
or reading a secret note
in the invisible ink
of a dream.
A flat or sharp—
a whole note floating
like a U.F.O.
or held
like a trilobite
in limestone,
the trebles twisting
in their trembling script
as F-clefs bat their lashes
near your own ear
whistling like half a wishbone.
The choirs have folded
like music boxes,
snapped closed like fans
only to reappear again
a cappella
on a flat screen—
the parched scream for the queen
of the night, lone nightingale
whose grace is amazing.

~ to Marilyn, Neva, Erwin