A Motherless Daughter. Vintage Montage by Ruth Zachary
As she grew, her mother's photograph
Peered down over the top of the piano,
somber light eyes grave and stern
watched while she learned the keys
making magic chords transcribed from
sounds the spirits played upon her skin,
scales fingered in wordless harmonies there.
Her mother's picture hung upon the wall,
sainted now having died of scarlet fever
days after giving birth. She too, had scarce
escaped, found hanging off the bed
in her long nightdress, up-side-down,
like a cat in a sack, hem held fast
under her mother's body, she had been
scooped up by a watchful grandmother.
Sometimes she felt her grandma’s arms
holding, rocking, until sleep came and dreams,
where she could sink into a warm watery world,
where breath did not matter, and the universe
pulsed in her head, keeping steady rhythms
and harmonies, until surrendering, she could
escape those relentless haunting fears.
Sometimes at night, sleep refused
to carry her away, and she would float, adrift,
the raft of bed pushed hard against her back;
body pressed tight between deep
bedding, and weighted darkness.
Overhead, a cold dark cloud seemed to scream,
but she had no breath; no voice, no light.