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We'll Always Have Two Things to Hold: Poem by Chandu Govind
why nothing else matters: Poem by John Sweet
the pale grey light of forgotten afternoons: Poem by John Sweet
Orchestra Class: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
The Old Lady Shows Her Mettle: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Elizabeth Zelvin: Orchestra Class

104_ym_orchestraclass_kjhannah.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2024

ORCHESTRA CLASS

 

Elizabeth Zelvin

 

 

 

rich and dark and gleaming

they seem to surround me

each tier's apex a velvet throat

hidden in the depths, the rows of jaws

yawn wide as if about to snap

on this twelve-year-old girl

on the stage of Carnegie Hall

 

my classmates from Queens and I

know that we're too young to be here

the others are all older, high school kids

who have "precticed, precticed, precticed"

to get here, as the old joke says

my fingers tremble as I rosin my bow

tune my A string one last time

grip my cello with my knees

as if it were a horse that might bolt

and get away from me before the conductor

raises his baton so we can leave the starting gate

 

bound together by puberty and music

we are thirty boys and girls, told at eleven

we are talented and smart  

told to choose an instrument

told we'll be together till thirteen

IQ 130 and up, junior high two years, not three

the Special Progress orchestra class of 1957

 

Nina chooses oboe, voice of the duck in Peter and the Wolf

constantly moistening a reed between her lips

and wiping clammy fingers on a handkerchief

so they won't slip on the keys

 

Naomi chooses violin, her dad knew Einstein

played string quartets with him at Princeton

a serious girl, she wears rimless glasses

reads even more than the rest of us

 

Pete, the orchestra teacher's son, plays French horn

sits in the back row of the classroom

one hand resting on its baroque curves

the other hidden in the golden bell

with secrets in its throaty voice

we will understand when we are older  

 

we all adore his dad

the teacher with the booming laugh

the jokes that make us blush

the patience with our skritches, squeaks, and growls

the way he sends thirty twelve-year olds to play

with older kids on the stage at Carnegie Hall

saying, I don't care that you're not ready

I want you to have the experience

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Zelvin is the author of two books of poetry, I Am the Daughter (1981) and Gifts and Secrets (1999), and recipient of a CAPS award from the New York State Council on the Arts. During the Second Wave of the women's movement, her work was widely published in such journals as 13th Moon, Heresies, and the anthology Sarah's Daughters Sing. Recent poems have appeared in Yellow Mama as well as in anthologies of work about COVID and in support of Ukraine. Liz also writes short and long form fiction, including the Bruce Kohler Mysteries and the Mendoza Family Saga.

 

Elizabeth Zelvin, multiple Derringer & Agatha awards nominee  

The Bruce Kohler Mysteries

The Mendoza Family Saga

http://elizabethzelvin.com

KJ Hannah Greenberg is eclectic. She’s played oboe, participated in martial arts, learned basket weaving, and studied Middle Eastern dancing. What’s more, she’s a certified herbalist, and an AP College Board-authorized teacher of calculus.

Her creative efforts have been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, once for The Best of the Net in art, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty-five books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Channie’s latest book is Eternal not Ephemeral, Eternal not Ephemeral: Greenberg, KJ Hannah: 9798852494016: Amazon.com: Books, a collection of fifty tales, including "Absinthe for Aliens," "Isabelle," "Transitory Unease," and "Special Teeth," which were originally published in Yellow Mama or Black Petals. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2024