The Pianist

Pruning my words as tranquil targets,
three girls aged ten trebled my response
to our music instructor’s initial inquiry:
“the flute felt like floating on a cloud.”

Flight dispersed further away with each word
uttered so I tucked infatuation to soar safely
alongside daymares kept under lock and key,
threaded through the bodies battered by a butterfly
shaped hole-puncher. I bit my lip so often, skin
perpetually hung as an apology for my existence.

We could never afford to tune the piano. I was
blamed for fracturing F# though my mother
never apologized for splitting open my head.
Sealed sketches scattered mother’s staccato
in an amaranthine notebook — confiscated.
I’d lounge shamelessly like a cat in the sun
in stained threads to lap up my mother’s
practicing notes: first, the obligatory hymnals
for Sunday school. Years progressed, my

disobedient body elongated, and barren items
chiseled to a hoarder’s delight; I would fold
myself beneath a quilting frame or underneath
nanny’s antique table, places I could safely
shed. Then, she basted banal corporate classics.
As a teen, I’d pause Evanescence CDs on rotation
to listen — no longer disposing ridicule to return
to the living room — still hoping for an encore.

She’d intermittently indulge Stairway to Heaven
before concluding with Beth, her anger darted
like injured insults or diffused jabs over keys,
transforming a ballad into a livid manifesto.

Mother dearest never played without sheet music.
Instead, she sneered any hesitation of mine as
manipulated motifs while performing memorized scores.
My growing pains of imperfection were flossed
until, obedient daughter, I abandoned my passion
to ensure she remained best in house.


Earnest Dream

(To preserve the format of the poem, we have made it available in a PDF document. Please click here to access.)


Before the Fairness Pitcher Shattered

I condense my home country to an
abbreviation, as if 3 letters are non-
matching socks of the same hue

folded haphazardly within a pair
of shoes hidden inside the lining
of a tattered suitcase. The soft walls

of a tea cup are all I have faith to call
home. I pickle disappointment as pages
perish; a flicked ant becomes a comma.

My body is a crumpled canvas of
forgotten calligraphy; it folds neatly
as it’s steeped with discarded scars

and play-pretend pigmentation.
Friends I cannot hug nurture my grief.
My hands ache in reticent punctures.

I ignite the kettle. Who births a language?


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