The Buck – Susanna Rich

 

When I was ten,

Grandmother told me

to get her stuffed when she died

like the buck head by the door

catching webs of evil

in his antlers.

 

She was to be seated

in the living room

on the sofa

(or chair, our choice),

facing the piano where I would play

Brahms, Liszt and Chopin.

 

Her eyes were to be open

(maybe a little touch of glass,

for sparkle) and looking upwards

(slightly to the right)

like St. Theresa

or Sebastian pierced with arrows,

 

her hands–demurely covered

in white lace fingerless gloves–

propped holding the dome of heaven.

Her lips would be slightly open to show

silently parted pearlized teeth,

our guardian angel, mouth of God.

 

When we went shopping for perfume

or oil to treat her skin,

or maybe a new pair of gloves

or a light bulb for her ever-burning lamp

she and the buck would wait for our return.

 

Four times the ten I was,

I still bang a keyboard all day;

dust floats up into my eyes, ears,

mouth, my nose and many pores–

shadow fingers reach

like antlers across my page.

She listens: I sing.

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