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 rising 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.
Through a hedge of honey-suckle,
my slower pace discloses twins,
a double illusion out of a picture
book. Their blond hair woven
in a thick braid, they water a bed
of purple impatiens,
sprinkle each flower one by one.
White puffs race across the wild
undergrowth. Under a tall oak,
a fledgling hops helplessly,
stronger at each leap, disappears
into the woods.
Wafts of freshly cut grass permeate
the air. A blue spruce displays new
shades of tendrils. Birches' charcoal
eyes, hieroglyphs drawn on papyrus,
carved in the barks’ 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.