The Upright Piano
After Piano on Fire by Andrew Ferez
I see myself out in the cold, draped in a silk nightgown, seated
barefoot on a stool by that upright piano, you know, the one my
mother bought when she thought I should take piano lessons, while
others played during recess, oh, how I first struggled striking notes
daily, practicing scales, then rehearsing Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca”
till I’d play it in my mind relentlessly, tan tan tan . . . tan tan tan . . .
even when I knew I’d never learn another piece, and now, half a
century later, I am drawing with memory’s wavering lines that same
piano to make it the vessel of my heart’s message, of so much left
unsaid buried in a bitter well turning into notes that rise in tongues of
cold fire licking my insides with every key I touch, unharmed, I feel
the piano ablaze under my fingertips, twisted candles adorn its top
that grows into a tower and turrets spouting flames from windows,
a menace to the adjacent branches, my fingers wildly strike the
keyboard while the sky opens up like a stage filled with shimmering
damask memories dancing to the melody like maddened fireflies.
After Metamorphic Awareness (Island of Dead) by Viktor Safonkin
After giant waves whipped the rocky shoreline devouring cliffs at its
passage, what seemed from a distance a snail hovering over a rock
drifting like cork, or small islands bobbing over the dark waters has
filled my heart with consternation as I realize these volutes of smoke
billowing up all over like messages of distress appear now to be
fumes spewed by the combustion of sins, the world turned upside
down, and I who yearned to rescue, set out in my small skiff
searching for life on coral islands, ventured so close I can see this
giant hovering snaillike figure blowing, alimenting the furnace, with
his metal face forged by Hades and all I can do is lower my head in
consternation but do not mistake me for Charon, and note that my
companion has only one head.
Mesmerized by her oscillating
feet, my pulse accelerates,
I walk faster at her cadence.
Within seconds, her shirt vanishes
in the sinking light.
I envy this red-haired Atalanta's slender
figure, her secret bet
with the hourglass. Were I to follow
her footsteps, my dreams
would drown in the setting sun.
I glimpse white puffs racing
across the wild undergrowth.
Under a tall oak, a fledgling hops
helplessly, stronger at each leap,
then disappears into the woods.
Through a hedge of honey-suckle,
my slower pace discloses twins,
a double illusion right out of a picture
book. Blond hair woven
in a thick braid, they water a bed
of purple impatiens,
sprinkling each flower one by one.
Wafts of freshly cut grass permeate
the air. A blue spruce displays new
shades of tendrils. A Birch’s charcoal
eyes, hieroglyphs drawn on papyrus,
carved in the trunk’s tender grey
by nocturnal elves, taunt me.
Tall stems of Queen Anne's lace
unfold symmetrical umbels. Beneath
the diaphanous efflorescence, carried
by invisible strings, a procession of
yellow leaves glides over a horizontal trunk.
Hedy Habra is the author of two poetry collections, Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013), winner of the USA Best Book Award and finalist for the International Poetry Book Award and more recently, Under Brushstrokes (Press 53 2015); a story collection, Flying Carpets (Interlink 2013), winner of the Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and finalist for the USA Best Book Award and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. She received the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award. Her work appears in journals such as The Bitter Oleander, Connotation Press, Cutthroat, Verse Daily, Blue Fifth Review, Nimrod, New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, Cider Press Review, Poet Lore and Cimarron Review. She has a passion for painting and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University. Her website is HedyHabra.com