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’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.