by Margaret Eckman
Unmeasured anxiety vibrates off you—
a twisting Medusa halo, like piano wires pulled so taut
they snap to hiss and slice through all who come near.
The calm and control of intricate Bach, genteel Chopin,
sonorous Beethoven, carefully learned, beautifully played
to your teacher’s delight—all of it blown apart by a mislaid score,
a fruitless search, a panic attack that sends sense to the wind.
“Don’t speak” you bark as we climb in the car, “it makes it
worse. Shut up, Mom. Give me time.” So I purse my lips,
tune you out, drum my fingers, glare ahead, and tear through
traffic as frustration finds release through a tight grip, a lead foot.
Only later I realize, as I find the lost music deep in a pile
in your wreck of a room, what you keep trying to teach me:
to stay with your tune when discord rips you off key
to follow your tempo through the fluster of dissonance
to listen for the modulation that will bring you back home.
Margaret Eckman has come to love the rigor poetry demands—telling a complete story, well and beautifully, in a few short lines; she continues to strive toward that goal. An editor by trade, her award-winning poems have appeared in the Broadkill Review, Aurorean, Nantucket Magazine, and other publications. Her book Hope Runs Through It (as M. W. MacKay) is a collection of poetry that explores the beauty and mystery of nature, the struggles and hope of spirituality, and the challenges and blessings of raising a child with special needs.