Diane Elayne Dees
When we bought the house,
I loved the wild yard
with its blackberry bushes,
random azaleas, carpets of sword
ferns, and plethora of pines.
Now—minus you, two cats,
and what used to pass for peace
of mind—the landscape has
become my oppressor. Every
organism multiplies, spreading
across an acre of neglect and chaos.
I keep the lawn mowed, pick
up large limbs. But the weeds
and vines and creeping
grasses, fed by heavy rains,
assault me with their green
memoranda of the tangled,
disorganized and overgrown
jungle that thrives in my mind.
Poison is a hazard,
fire births more density.
Tolerance might cast a gentler light
on what has long been out
of my control, but I prefer
to simply look away.
I was no more than thirteen when I met
the anxious boy with dark-rimmed glasses
and dark leg hair who had too many hands,
the boy who appeared in the shadows
when I emerged from the dull camp buildings.
I felt no desire for him. Impatient to halt
the tedium of half-notes and a-flats, I wanted
the idea of him, for I longed to make music.
The boy smiled cunningly at me while he turned
his bow across the taut strings of a violin.
The older girl, seventeen, held me in
thrall with her perfect eye makeup and smooth,
tied-back hair. I followed her around the camp,
and one day, she slipped an album from its cover,
put it on the turntable, and said to me “Listen,
I want you to hear her." And I heard a voice
that made me feel the way I imagined
the boy thought I felt when he walked me down
the concrete paths. "Her name is Barbra,”
the older girl said. "I'm learning her songs.”
She smiled at me and walked away.
I kept her gift a secret,
memorizing no more hunger and pain
instead of the waltzes assigned for our concert.
My mother arrived on the last day.
I introduced her to the boy, and she knew
too much about him right away. I didn't tell
her about his hands or his eagerness
or my ambivalence, but she knew.
We performed our concert and went home,
never to see one another again.
What I never told was that it wasn't the awkward
kisses of a groping adolescent that transformed me.
It was hearing the Voice. Standing in a room
that smelled of brass and spit and hairspray,
for one moment, I saw Broadway lights,
and stood in the broken circle of common time.
About the Author: Diane Elayne Dees's poems and short stories have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis throughout the world.