The Opera Singer

Published June 11, 2013 by rlmcdermott

She sang
in the bathroom–
high notes,
clear,
chaste,
contralateral.

A songbird puffing
cigarettes between breaths,

all was illegal about those years–
the teased hair,
the shaved eyebrows,
the rolled-up skirt.

Violetta everywhere,
father dying
on a red-velvet couch.

Where were the old dreams,
the dreams her parents had for her;
there was a truth to them
that she ignored–

the bottle-shaped dreams
of an alcoholic father,

the woman in the kitchen
silent for forty years
now heard for the first time,

a half-forgotten song,
snatches of melody,
lingering in her memory.

They gave her a watch
so she could know time was running out.
She listened to the ticking; rhythmic
like a song, like a poem,
an alliteration of small explosions
striking the final destination.

The days of summer and sadness,
the little girl heart beating badly,
the pills stolen from a dying father,
the butcher knife hidden in a rotting mattress,
the poems packed in a yellow suitcase–
songs saved for another day.The Opera Singer

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