January 26th, 2017

poetry, exceptindreams

Playing His Heart Out | Sharon Chmielarz

“Playing His Heart Out”
Sharon Chmielarz

That day we were trapped
between chartreuse living
room walls and the godly
cleanliness of afghans
saving sofas and chairs.

We were talking about
anything except Uncle Carl—
gone, how we’d miss him—
when Uncle Gus came down
the hall and stood in

the archway, his wiry
body strapped under a black
accordion. “Haven’t played,”
he said, “for a long time.”
So he played a waltz and I

squirmed in my chair under
the slow flow of grief. He
played a polka and I heard
my sister clapping lightly
for the mourner bending over

the keys. His cheek-bones,
red as Helgoland’s
cliffs on the North Sea. Gulls
whirled and screamed around
the black load on his heart.