BellaOnline Literary Review
Red Shouldered Hawk by Al Rollins

Table of Contents


My French Horn Summer

Emily Strauss

I walked the hot two miles
uphill to my morning class
lugging a heavy case banging
against my knee, sweating
before I fell into the metal
chair to stare despondently
at the sheet music of random
lines and dots— Do Re Mi
I blew sideways, the horn
farted, the dots and dashes
floating back down the hill
followed me all that summer.

Again I´m sitting in that bare
room on a folding chair, a cell
for capital punishment—
I´m being flayed by black dots
that should mean a note
but which one, which finger
I have no idea and the teacher
exasperated strikes the page
with his pointer and then hits
my hand, black notes flying
like disturbed wasps, I try
frantically to remember
the cleft— big dots, white
and black and asleep at night
they prowl over my defeated
fingers, nipping like angry geese.

The phone rang late once
I grabbed the horn half
asleep and tried to talk
into it. My music career
ended later that week
black notes netted in
the horn´s bell.

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