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Prairie Schooner 80.3 (2006) 143-144

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Stairs Made of Music, and: Hapless with Blazing Dazzle

for Wendy

Stairs Made of Music

The stairs in your house are stanzas.
Your wings are nailed to your back while
your dead father touches the nape of your neck
with throbbing fingers. "Child,"
he murmurs, "breathe for me."

But how can you be a child
when there's a feather-bone in your womb
while you walk through empty,
lavender-scented rooms, looking out windows
at stars hiding their damaged heads?

Your mother, deaf to your cries,
crouches in the attic. Your father's
low voice also murmurs, "Child,
walk up those infinite stanzas
even though your wings are nailed
to your back."

While the moon shrinks
into a fetal sac, your father
turns into curls of smoke
that fill your empty, lavender-scented rooms
where the tissue faces of your children
are pasted to the walls like damaged stars. [End Page 143]

You stare at them like something
vaguely familiar, familiar as
infinite grief while your mother
moves broken chairs like chess pieces
in the attic.

This much you know:
the tissue faces of your children dream
when told a bedtime story, emulation
of star-buds emulate damaged wings

Hapless with Blazing Dazzle

Let us find vestiges of myth, satin winding staircases &
webbed shawls woven by nimble fingers.
Let us not be split by the slight difference
between day & night. Muttering about
the years sinking into caves caving in,
we search for a child by lamplight.

Who will that child be? Who will help her
blow out the candles on her birthday cake?
Happy child! Hapless with blazing dazzle!
She will help us to broadly open our arms:
what's destroyed in an afternoon can take a lifetime
to re-create with form, style & twigs that sprout roots.

This being said, thus understood, let it be known
that the road leads to a land where trees bear pears
which bear the heavy notes of cellos.

Elizabeth Kirschner has published three volumes of poetry, all with Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her work has appeared in journals including the Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and the Gettysburg Review.



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pp. 143-144
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