Touch: The Journal of Healing



Revenant Etudes

    by Stephen Bunch

She plays piano in an upper room

in the only unhaunted house in town.

Her calloused fingertips caress

the flats and sharps, the keys

like knife blades arrayed before her,

the dried blood long worn off

by hours of arpeggios, staccatos, and trills.

Sometimes she sings, but usually

she listens, mimics with fingers spread

the sound of the oak's shadow pressing

the window, or the soft turning

of her husband in sleep.

As she plays she works

to see stars through the ceiling,

to reproduce the faces

of her grandchildren behind

the walls of other houses

in other towns, to hit

the note exactly

as the telephone rings,

and when it doesn't ring, to pause

precisely and sustain.

With hands crossed, she can make

the sun rise, again and again,

never the same, panta rhei,

with the soft hammering of thumbs,

the interval between then and now.

In the angle of her wrists

the pulse of an ovation,

but she continues to play,

refusing to take a bow.

© 2014  Stephen Bunch

Stephen Bunch’s work has appeared recently in Umbrella and The Literary Bohemian. From 1978 to 1988, he published Tellus, a magazine featuring work by Jack Anderson, Jane Hirshfield, Denise Low, Paul Metcalf, Edward Sanders, and others. He received the 2008 Langston Hughes Award for Poetry from the Lawrence Arts Center.  His chapbook, Preparing to Leave, was published by The Lives You Touch Publications in the spring of 2011.

Copyright © 2014

Touch: The Journal of Healing

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