POETRY
Coda
Dorty Nowak

Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

Too big for your body, the whale of a bed will go on sale; also the dresser, its
three-linked mirrors tall as sails. 

 I empty drawers of froth-edged linens sent from Sligo, clippings from concerts that spoke of early promise, a few hairpins. Find, beneath a crush of scarves, a silk sack, striped silver and gold. Inside, a prosthetic breast.  

Flayed by a country doctor when I was thirty-three. 

I cradle its weight in my hand. You ask to keep it, a bit of ballast.   

In the last drawer, two boxes of dime store jewels, gifts from music students.  I run beads smooth as seaweed through my fingers, dangle jeweled earrings. Their cast-off colors dance on the surface of the pale green spread. You know the name of each child. The boxes, and their names, go with you.

Only the piano is left, shipped from Austria, a gift from your father when you were six.  Grand vessel you commanded through two wars, both a brother and husband disabled young.  Sorrows you never spoke flowed from your fingers.

Nana, what shall I do with the piano?  

Play it.


Dorty Nowak is a writer and artist living in Paris and Berkeley. She writes frequently about multicultural living, and is a co-founder of Duologues, a project involving poets and visual artists from around the world. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and The University of Chicago.