Joanna White

Quartet Rehearsal in the Church

Tucked in the shadowed corner, the piano, melancholy
as the plastic-covered sofas in my grandmother’s
living room. Setting down our instrument cases to unravel
the cover from the baby grand—its wood etched
like the graffiti’d wall off the back alley—we unfold skeletons
of music stands. The piano out of the light, we lean
our weight to shift the beast, when its leg buckles,
tonnage tilting to whack the stone floor, reverb pulsing
the cavern like a prayer. We freeze, heaving the piano up
and prop its leg, to play George Crumb’s “Eleven Echoes
of Autumn.” Whisper across the lip of the alto flute
in Spanish into the raised piano lid
, spider the italics
in the score, until the piano strings ring in sympathetic
, so I lean my flute in, whisking sibilant s’s across
the flute’s cusp, to shiver the gut strings, ghost tones
wriggling up like fish to the stained-glass shapes
high above the sanctuary.

Music professor Joanna White has creative works in: The Examined Life Journal, Healing Muse, West Texas Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Measure, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Earth’s Daughters, Dunes Review, KYSO Flash Anthology, Cherry Tree, and the Poetry and Medicine column of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), among others. Her first poetry collection, Drumskin and Bones, has been accepted for March 2021 publication.