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.