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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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A MUSIC STAND

 

Her music stand was an anorexic—

a cold metal stick, a skinny spine that propped 

the fanned-open pages, then collapsed into itself 

and fitted next to her cello case. It was the thing

 

I always had to carry—after the icy-dark drive,

she'd turn off the engine, grab her case and glide

into the blizzard: I'd trail, the awkward thing

in my arms. I couldn't hold it without being poked, 

 

or scraped. Sometimes I needed her heel-prints

to guide me in the snow to the concert hall;

there I'd find her fluffing her hair, spritzing perfume. 

She'd take the music stand from me

and cradle it, then carefully unfold

its insect-limbs, adjusting its sharp tips.

 

—Jodie E. Hollander



THE CHICKEN LADY

 

Thank God for the chicken lady,

who parked her white van in our driveway

each Sunday, and brought the eggs and milk

and of course the fresh chicken to our home;

and good thing she came the same day

I set the whole living room on fire.

Father was out at the local donut shop

and Mother somehow didn’t smell a thing,

tending to her plants in the backyard,

but the chicken lady smelled the smoke

and dropped her eggs in the front foyer

and screamed “Fire! Fire! Your house is on fire!”

 

She got mother and they got the buckets

and they started dumping water all over

everything: mother’s parrot-print couches,

her new yellow carpet, the Chinese vases,

even father’s musical scores got soaked,

but at least nothing important got burnt

like mother’s cello, or Father’s Steinway piano;

and at least no one really got hurt,

and at least the family room was still there,

so the chicken lady started hugging my mother,

thanking her lucky stars that she was there

that day to save our home from burning up;

 

though the flames had left their black marks

on the ceiling where they tried to reach

the second floor where I was hiding

under my kid-sized bed, I

wasn’t ready for this: burning our house,

not yet, I was still scared as hell.

 

—Jodie E. Hollander