- Lessons Learned
Some of my teachers have not survived.What does their parting betray?Were their lessons wise? Contrived?Or are unruly thoughts imagination's need,destruction as the balance?
Or is it merely loss?
Piano lessons cancelledThe stereo drones, the engine whirs, a woman too silent and still.While an eight-year-old, her reach far short of the octave,littlest finger to thumb, instead grasps her silken slippers, pink.There will be no more practice, practice, practice.There will be no more rhythm or sound.Just a door quietly closed.
Then, an e-mail's brevity:"The poet died unexpectedly with her son."That pristine sentence later violated.A walk in the woods, small hand in large,before she cut down herself and her creation.Sense and meaning departed.
She taught me to hone the words of a pageFocused, crisp, precise, alive.A novel like a poemAn instant like a life. [End Page 318]
abigail g. h. manzella is a writer and scholar who lives in Columbia, Missouri. In addition to her poetry she writes prose on race and gender in twentieth-and twenty-first-century American literature and culture, including film and TV. You can read her articles at sites such as The Rumpus, Ms., and Bust. Her book Migrating Fictions: Gender, Race, and Citizenship in U.S. Internal Displacements was recently published by the Ohio State University Press. She is glad to place this poem in a feminist journal since she used to oversee Iris: A Journal about Women at the University of Virginia.