You moved in that summer—

a trial period, small room with a bed,

window. Ribs of black steel

pins of twine pulled taut

your hammers poised to strike

stretched strings a wide field of grain

lid a mink coat laid flat, its prop

a carved brown totem, releasing sound.

I worked on you five, six

hours a day—scales, etudes, and

Rachmaninoff’s Elegie. My big-bosomed

Russian teacher pushed me to drill down

and extricate from you the purest wails

of sorrow and you let me. One day

looking out the window, I was drawn to

the tennis courts, where I met the tuba

player from the pit orchestra,

never looked back, no matter

how many times you called me Eurydice.


Mary Dean Lee

Mary Dean Lee’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Ploughshares, I-70 Review, LEON Literary Review, Broad River Review, Sepia Quarterly, Event, The Write Launch, as well as other journals.  Her manuscript, Tidal Bore, was recently a Finalist with Trail to Table Press and The Inlandia Institute’s 2022 Hillary Gravendyk Prize. She grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, studied theatre and literature at Duke University and Eckerd College, and received her PhD in organizational behavior at Yale. She lives in Montreal, Canada.

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