It feels impossible, but it will become habit—
my music therapist shows me how to mute the strings
by pressing her trigger finger hard over the vibrations—
pluck, pluck, mute—until the sounds stop.
I misfire, make my instrument scream—
wrong place, wrong timing.
I learn how silence helps keep the tempo steady.
We are calling this piece ‘249 mass shootings in 2019’.
A title in-progress.
She spreads the notes along the piano
so I can see how they translate, move left/right.
I tell her about the protestors downtown, both sides,
jumping in front of cars, louding with homemade signs.
Anger moves so quickly, their messages blur.
In time, you will learn how to hold someone in the rise
and fall, she promises. How to bring them back home.
I read about people calling out for CPR, then for a sheet
of silence to hide under between rounds,
but it takes a practiced ear to know if it’s an overlap,
or a continuation.
She taps out a pattern. I struggle with where to slip the spaces
in an overwhelm of rapid-fire chords.
Silence is all around you, she sweeps her hands.
You will learn how to put in the same place every time.
Megan Merchant is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press, four chapbooks, and a children’s book. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review.