A Cannon Buried in Flowers
With eyes closed, her fingers flutter like wordless
birds caressing keys. Who sits at the piano like this,
in hat and heavy coat brushing shards of glass
from every key? Windows shattered, doors blasted
off hinges, the singed foot of her baby’s bear. Still,
she rolls up her sleeves, poises hands mid-air
and draws a breath.
Who has courage like this, to go back in, risk death,
while fires burn and neighbors stand stunned
in the street below? The sound of guns,
babies bawling, bricks strewn like stale biscuits,
nothing to eat, no heat on this sub-zero day
as everyone prays the next strike is not underway.
Who has such presence of mind to play Chopin?
Had the Czar of Russia heard such musical insurrection,
he would have surely used his powers to ban
this cannon buried in flowers; notes that speak
the poetic prose of a nation, however bleak.
I still possess a small plaster bust of Chopin,
a piano teacher’s gift when I was young. A man
whose music gave me courage to someday flee,
leave my family, attempt to be free. It’s not the same,
not like Ukraine but I understand the desperate search
for a place where hopes and dreams will not be blown apart.
Like this woman who must abandon her home, leave
the piano she owns, a baby in her arms, the people
she’s known who stand in the street and let this
music lift their feet off the ground as they look around,
torn curtains waving from every window.
by Morgan Ray
Editor’s note: This poem fixes a scene of war firmly into the reader’s mind, but it is the juxtaposition of music within chaos that really hammers home the tragedy of the situation.
Poet’s note: A Cannon Buried in Flowers is a description of Chopin’s work, etude opus 25 No. 1, accredited to composer Robert Schumann.