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This poem first appeared in the Fall, 2014 issue of The Antioch Review.


by LaWanda Walters

                         Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
                         At the beginning of October,
                         And gallop terribly against each other's bodies
is how they make football like Autumn,
roaring down to its tragic goal line
in a knuckle-splitting, skidding glissando,
or like my sister playing Prokofiev at thirteen
in a short skirt up on stage when I heard
the comment, "she plays like she isn't a virgin."
I think you hit some primal key that makes us feel
we're in a dance, a turning in air above the ferns,
like Prokofiev's concerto hitting close to fossil nerve.
When she played with the Chautauqua Symphony,
my sister got blood on the piano keys,
those lines written to sound like three hands
in the cadenza. Arpeggios, hand crossings,
my prodigy sister. We listened,
in the practice cabin, her boyfriend placing the needle
on the record, for the orgasm near the end
of the Rachmaninoff Second. But which place?
Was that it? The music got better and better—
how could we know where it ended?
That is what I'm saying about your poem.
Your dad slaving at the glass factory,
my mother throwing her ruby red glassware,
“moondrops," in the garbage. It reminded her, she said,
of being poor. "Hazel-Atlas Glass" gleams in your poems,
a folk melody begins the wild concerto.
And so a line of music or a line in your poem
is misleading. To be so vulnerable and romantic—
Prokofiev had stage fright when he played that part.
Your word, "Therefore," is a bright container
turned lavender in the sun. Regardless,
just upriver in Steubenville, football players,
caught on video, laugh as they fumble and finger-fuck
the dreams of a passed-out teenaged girl.

               (after James Wright's "Autumn Begins in Martin's Ferry, Ohio")

LaWanda in Cannery RowLaWanda Walters has had poems published in Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Laurel Review, North American Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, and Sou’wester. “Her Art” which first appeared in The Antioch Review, was chosen by Natasha Threthewey for Best New Poets 2007. Her poem “Marilyn Monroe” appeared in Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century. She lives in Cincinnati.