Selmer

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I remember you practicing modal
scales across a golden tenor horn,
your impossibly long bronzed hands
playing hopscotch finger sketches
shaking our apartment floors
prying apart cracks in our walls,
the deep Selmer voice rearranging
the chambers of my heart and treble cry
bouncing inside my ears

The day after the nurse covered your deflated body
in a white sheet I put your bamboo reed in my mouth
the way you used to before practice, I smelled the inside
of your velvet lined instrument case to fill my chest with
your last exhale through that brassy temple of music

Though your saxophone rested grieving silently,
you were still there reclined in the engraved bell
where your lungs ran out of air

        Your ears still listening to the silence between notes
        between treble strokes of hammers cracking coffin nails,
        between the thumping bass of dirt crashing on pine
        between shovels full of cracked wall hymns

        Your fingers still catapulting between round keys playing
        tag games with breath to syncopated drum brushes
        swishing patterns, caressing your pine casket goodbye

The night the nurse covered your body
in a white sheet, my mother held her breath so I
wouldn’t hear the sobbing, and I dreamed you held
yours waiting for the exhale of that engraved Selmer

And though my lungs are not adorned in quarter notes
hung from staff lines, the chambers of my heart still
echo with your tenor growl, and I am still breathing
enough for the three of us

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