MUSED Literary Magazine.
Fiction

First Language

Sean J. Mahoney

Quarter notes open up whole voice. Keep your
back straight I say. I love your jaw, your chin
pointing forward and strings of the keyboard
vibrating below your angular lines as you plink
your way through the chorus of ‘What Now’.
I’m overwhelmed. I swoon with you sans
the lurid drama of Rihanna. You use an app
and learn the fingerings. You move a melody
and it feels like heartbreak once did in high
school you say and yet the tempo…

…Easter from Rome on the TV,
Soundless Pope Francis presides over
Ecumenicals and assembly members:
resurrect-…one…two and
tion…two…two…

…tempo is as much about the right note at
the right time as being on the back patio
of an enclosed and walled gated home for sale
in Rancho Mirage and seeing an index finger-
sized hummingbird pausing on a cable under
cover of the eave…

…rest…three…two and
rest…four…two,
the right note, the right time…

…though this is not a love poem or a song of songs
but the living desert vision of a glass globe replete
with hummingbirds and dust and abandoned
plastic bags and oddly thriving blossoms and
music connected by wind, by space. Vanity.
The second hummingbird I saw flit in and out
of the Ashitaba vines - the longevity plant rising
bright as youth luring your teeth and pulpy
juiced mouth - flit up to cluster blossoms of orange
Honeysuckle, navigates a density of nectar and thrust
out to the edge of the cover shrub, finally, to assay me.

I read graphic novels in backyard shade. The others
are napping and I need to read. You know the feeling
yes? When it’s been not quite a day but more than
12 hours and let’s say 50 minutes since the page
turned to you, bid you curl you round its spine…
I was on warring moons and planets and flying trees
where music begins with an elegant piece of wood.
It’s just grand, baby…

The 3rd hummingbird bounced across the top
of green hedge next door, but even at that distance
I was watched. I heard birds stirring above spongy
grass in loosely tangled yard dividing shrubs –
a more ephemeral take on the good fence / good
neighbor policy. A pepper tree dropped seed upon
me and into the crease of my graphic novel. Sunlight
whispered in triplets and trills. The 4th hummingbird
just drank and fled. No time for my box about songs
from the 80s. But yes – everybody does indeed
want soap with which to rule the world.

Nectar of your song drizzles note by note. Delicate
key of your lips mouthing words and much later,
after the music is but a faint sweet ringing and
rounded Saturn glows in the dark upon your galaxy
panty, I recall that the 6th hummingbird flew to
within 3 feet of my face, away, to me again as if
there will be more so long as I remain forever just
a step behind the beat, back straight, open to your
song as night closes in.