Everyone played higher than each other.

Notes lithe as wires, tuning sharp

entanglements, preludes above the living

room air. Father, grandmother, great-aunt

Susannah, junior Tilman, weddings,

anniversaries, funerals. High C’s

turned themselves inside out, trapezes,

somersaults through some fly-by

stratosphere of their own. Lemon twists,

spangles, circus dust. Hands that streamline

the shore after the tide goes out, turn

sonatas for sandcastles. Holiday

after holiday, as the sun went down,

there they sat—in top hats, scarves,

and feathers around the dining room

table, shiny with fingers running

scales across the early evening crystals.

We washed and stacked dishes. So many

photographs along the mantel, so many silent

movies flickering over their edges into sound.

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