by Erin Kirsh

My father played viola and my mother played piano
but never together.

I read music and then I couldn’t remember
how, got left
with mnemonic devices and clef keys signaling nothing.

My brother’s non-speaking
but he knows the lyrics to every song
a bottomless phonic canon.

We were never happy, but there were nights when my mother cracked
a cookbook, lay it against the piano’s mahogany chest and sang a strudel
coaxed Beethoven and babka from weary strings.

Though the ghost is given up, I still play guitar
sometimes, selections of songs from my parents’ records
that never shared a shelf. I work my fingers until they callous over

and the bite of discordant sounds is a mere nibble.


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash