whole .

The only thing I can trace back is death. That,
and warped piano lids. The ivory keys are like teeth
before dentures. I ask Grandma when she’ll have it tuned.
She gives a closed-mouth chuckle.

half .

It belonged to the grandfather I never knew.

He had perfect pitch because he didn’t see the music, Daddy says, he felt it.
I scrunch my eyebrows and guess that it’s one of those things
that will rebound and click like a metronome.

We go to Grandma’s backyard and my pointer finger picks out the moon,
like the ivory peeking from an ebony lid. He sees it, too. For a while we say

“Daddy, didn’t you want to be an astronomer once?”
He winces.
“Yes, I did.”
And somehow I know he’s not just squinting for stars.

quarter .

Grandma’s mother was a firm believer in tea leaves and tarot cards.
I imagine Grandma, mid-twenties with a cigarette in hand, blonde hair fingered and combed til static caught on, looking over the cards her husband was dealt. Squeezing the cross hanging around her neck.
I imagine the car, the sweaty press of rush hour, the hospital.

I found the cards in her basement one night, ripped right down the middle.

eighth .

She called her move to Florida a change of scenery. New state, newborns, new life. She kept the radio off for much of the ride. They had had enough music.

rest .

Grandmother buys us a telescope. It blends in with the
leathery darkness. My cousin turns the dial and calls me over.
The shadow of my eyelashes fracture the view like a kaleidoscope
until I force my eye open. Until it hurts.
Grandmother is reclined in a chair, lifts her wine glass to the stars.
I see her breath before I hear it.
“Aim for the moon!”

But I know we’re really looking for God.

Shannon Daniels, Age 16, Grade 11, Stuyvesant High School, Gold Key

This entry was written by NYC Scholastic Awards and published on December 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm. It’s filed under Poetry, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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