What do you play for me, Piranesi,
waxed in the flicker of flame?
How deft your ivory fingers;
your right hand trills to B flat.
Yet how can you play Schumann, Piranesi,
when the piano is not yet born?
Apple trees sway through the window, Piranesi,
leather trees clumsy with fruit,
their hollow seeds eyed out by worms.
What are you spinning, what dark dreams
draw your gills to the salt net, the siren blood song?
The water whispers our hymn, Piranesi,
our hymn in the key of B flat.
Silver the slug scales crescendo;
silver throated the pack howls the crickets quiet.
What of our hearts, Piranesi,
the loves we drew with silk
and threw to the wolves --
always the wolves
circle back for the swords.
Your chords grow dark, Piranesi
and I ache at the way your hands twist
the throat of the fire.
I can hear it in the fog smoke, Piranesi,
the winged horns of owls.
Copyright 1999, Jo Nelson
Jo Nelson teaches creative writing at Tacoma Community College, Gig
Harbor. She has been a writer in residence for the Washington State
Arts Commission and has taught German, French, and English in Maryland
and Colorado. Her poems, articles, and short stories have been published
in numerous national anthologies and magazines. She reads poetry
herself, with the Daughters of Dementia, and with the Seattle Five Plus One. Their anthology was published by Pig Iron Press in 1995.