Summer Lee © 2004 All Rights Reserved

 

Etude

The woman playing cello on the corner says her family will be here soon. She sweeps a wild lock from her face and says they are a chamber orchestra. When she bends her head to her bow, we smirk and shift our feet and feel so kind, how nice. Soon enough her family, dressed in black, carrying heavy cases that look as though they contain musical instruments. We have seen enough movies. Machine guns are sometimes pulled from these very cases, but there is the ginger way that true musicians flip their locks, trigger-quick, expressing themselves even in the act of opening. All this takes place in silence. A violin, a piccolo, and a bassoon emerge and she is there with her cello. Sheet music drifts down the street. We run to pick them up but the pages are mostly blank. A few contain terse directions like go easy on them, and they don’t mean any harm. One says, yes. Another, lunch. We respect their hunger. Own stomachs move us closer to the sandwich stand, and we respect their secrecy because we have been let in. The quartet begins tuning. A crowd of blackbirds arrives. When the birds compose themselves on the pages, the music begins and the street is flooded with people.

Mary Austin Speaker
Copyright © 2004


Mary Austin Speaker lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where she’s finishing her MFA degree at Indiana University. She teaches writing and edits poetry for the Indiana Review, and has work in or forthcoming in Rattapallax, BigCityLit, Spork and the Seattle Review.

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