(why) can’t i hear you anymore?

Weihui Lu

2008 Second Prize

1. one metronome ticking; two hearts on the offbeat; one child’s violin small enough to
fit sideways through a window. one, two,
three-four no no, three-four. here, like this 2. a bow is drawn
across the thinnest string five rooms away, the grandfather sipping coffee—black with a
dash of scotch—feels a foreign thrumming through the mug, an echo in his hollow
thumb broken twenty years ago, falling from a peach tree. he thinks he hears a sparrow’s
chirp (twenty years ago the bright-eyed trinket his baby daughter desired) faint through
the patchwork of his ochre skin. the hush-
        shush of wings
        against dry branch or bone.

        for days after he can only smell peaches, trees and trees of ripe round fruit. in a
week he is dead with a smile on his face.
3. a face in the mirror mid-blink. gone. nothing there at all. oh, look—the child has hidden the child has
hidden something in the cubby of his mother’s vanity. (her eyes full
of something like glee, twisted mouth too small to engulf the bitten-pit of guilt. her nose
swells, fat on tears that eyes withheld.) watch. this is how the face rips apart sprinting in
one million different directions all at once.

4. there is a woman sitting alone in a white room with walls that breathed and never
exhaled any light sitting on a cushion that is a flame in all the whiteness with her eyes
closed and she is crying and when she opens her eyes they are oceans flooding and struck
speechless at how
vast is this pale room, which must, in reality, be the cloud that curtains the horizon as a
wisp
that you can’t
ever reach no matter how strained your shoulders, which you once believed contained a
pair
of white wings
like this room that is not a room.
5. insert a chisel (a secret) into the fist and the palm, like a broken cup, leaks: blood from
each nail and the ruptured center. please, please baby, tell me—where did you put it each
   finger slowly pried away the joints creaking like a forgotten door, opened for the first
                                                                                                                                    time in years.

                                                                                                            6. i.
onceuponatimetherewasagirlwhosegrandfathergaveherasilverkeysosmallsosmall
thatsheslippeditintoherviolinwhichsheloveduntilhisheartachedtoomuchtoplayfor
heragainthoughheblameditonhisfingersbuttheparentshisdaughterthoughtitashame
forthechildtolosesuchagreatgiftandsohiredateacherforherwhomthechildhatedand
hateduntilshehidawaytheviolinandthekeyandstoppedspeakingandsleepingtheday
hergrandfatherdied ii. the sparrow voice stops as if distracted by something on the side of
the road (that leads to a dusty nowhere) does not resume until the step-ladder scale of
tears five rooms away re-establishes itself.
7.
Lu stanza

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