When You Want to Stay

Plug my wound.
Gauze sops blood.
Tug my body —
electric current to my chest —
Tether my soul —
soft hand to my heart —
Draw my mind —
your words call.
Catch my breath.
Breathe into my lungs.
Wisp of me leaves
lips warm with you.

Piano

I.

It was only yesterday, I saw her in her housecoat,
Like the doll beneath my bedsheets,
I swam in her melody.
The sound from strings, breathless winds
swirled around me. She smiled.
Her feet barely touched pedals,
the echo carried notes through her body, my ears.
Her gnarled knuckles barely bent,
her fingers still touched keys.
The crows stretched their feet,
sleep fell from her eyes.
I turned on the radio, an accompaniment began.
A flowing composition written without a pen.
Like flowers swaying in the garden,
I twirled, barely tall enough to see her dancing fingers.

II.

At the organ, she massaged her stiff knuckles;
her fingers lightly rested on ivory, smooth and white.
Reacquainted with her friend, fingertip to fingertip;
she hummed low and high,
sitting by him in congregation.
The “C” resonated,
Brass pipes sang,
voices from the choir,
a simple hymn.

III.

Steinway sits in the breezeway
covered in dust.

A spring afternoon,
she floats in, sits on the bench.
Ivories hammered by oak;
she beats her fingers down.
Scales the key to drum,
fades to the end of a song,
echoes pass –
a melody only Beethoven can hear.
Silence bound to memory and loose metal strings.
Her Steinway waits to play,
I don’t have the strength.
Today, in waning light,
she floats through breezeway.

Dedicated to the memory of my nana, Aune Mullen.

Family History
For Mikko Hakko

Boys racing down Boston streets,
bananas in exhaust pipes, loud raucous laughter.
No desire to break rules,
drive a sports car, speed over hills,
I felt left behind by their history.

Quiet. Typewriter clickety-clack,
at the four-person kitchen table in summer sun.
My nana cracked eggs, mixed batter, latticed pies.
I wove stories on pages with rubbed-out errors.
Stacks rose with the warmth of the oven.

Surface relationships over the internet beg
for cultivation. Dig deep, an unexpected history,
a great-great-great-grandfather unearthed.

A Finnish poet, his words unfamiliar to me,
we hold hands over my line breaks.

Serena Agusto-Cox was one of the first featured poets of the DiVerse Gaithersburg reading series in Maryland. Poems are in The Magnolia Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dissonance Magazine, Mothers Always Write, Bourgeon, and elsewhere. Work appears in the This Is What America Looks Like anthology, Mom Egg Review’s Pandemic Parenting issueThe Plague Papers digital anthology, H.L. Hix’s Made PricelessLove_Is_Love: An Anthology for LGBTQIA+ Teens, and Midge Raymond’s Everyday Book Marketing. She also runs the book review blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, and founded Poetic Book Tours to help poets market their books.


Image: Jean-François Garneray, La Leçon de Piano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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