Jul/Aug 2007 Poetry

Singing Lessons

by Jesslyn Roebuck

Photography by Kawika Chetron

Singing Lessons

The girl drops the words.
They clatter like kitchen plates.
The boy picks them up
Piece by piece, wraps them
In gauze, and hands them back.
I'm across the hall, so I can see them.
This is the only reason why I know this, so
The girl goes and sits on the steps
And delicately unwraps the package.
Some of the pieces tumble down.
I venture to guess she doesn't want
Them anymore, and that maybe I shouldn't
Be watching something so vulnerable.
And so I close the door.
Then I guess the pieces clawed into her skin.
That's when, my neighbors say, she sliced off
Her ears bit by bit, leaving them at the apartment door.
They all agreed it was very courageous of her.
The words showed up again when the baby was born.
First it was hidden in a diaphanous shroud of silence,
And then the most wonderful thing. The crying.


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