Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from our favorite emerging writers
At 13, I wished to pluck music
from thin air,
to play my yearnings,
themes from Love Story and Romeo and Juliet,
not pound stiff fingers
like pogo sticks
through staccato notes
my mom played on a triangle
in her childhood rhythm band.
Opening the keyboard
of our black upright,
the front panel puffed, lungs
filling with air. Struck keys
threw felt hammers
hearts beating in secret.
I put on airs
with my crashing chords,
wringing music from the monstrosity falling out of tune
against the damp basement wall,
notes competing with tennis shoes
thumping through the dryer,
I wore jeans to the recital,
hulked above little girls
in puffy party dresses who
coaxed out elegant tones
from a honey piano
sheet music dense
with tangles of notes
requiring a page-turner.
unable to gain traction,
bench slippery as ice,
I jolted through
my frenzied notes,
wishing to race into my future,
dragged into my mother’s past.
Air composed by King Louis the XIII,
said the line across the top
as if a king had conjured this song
from thin air, or concocted
its tune on an air guitar
or while soaring
in a hot air balloon.
My mother beamed
as if the music and she and I
were points on a triangle
connected by invisible lines,
but I was already far away,
soaring above the treble clef, the metal chairs,
my beaming mom,
my heart hammering
as I composed my life in secret, fingers launched
like springs from broken lines of notes.
Going to the Moon
My parents’ voices carry back,
static on a radio transmitted from another planet
as the Impala glides through space
like the Apollo 11 last week
before its wobbly landing.
Dad shot blurred photos of the black-and-white TV
when a man took his first small step.
Someday You Will Go to the Moon
declares the title of one of my picture books.
Tires sigh against the road, and it’s like a picture,
the way the window frames the bone-white moon
there above trees, fenceposts, and phone lines. I
am six, I am waiting for my bright future.
Bubble seat covers mold craters in my cheeks as I dream
of my giant leaps for mankind.
Light and shadow turn my parents’ faces
to the faces of strangers in a photograph’s negative,
eyes and mouths sunken hollows
in bleached, ancient skulls.
It’s a premonition I’m too young to understand,
a price I’ve not yet paid,
a dark side still blurred, still staticky.
I only shiver, thinking, someday. Someday.
Someday I will go to the moon.
Nancy McCabe is relatively new to poetry, with recent work in Nelle, Westchester Review, Literary Mama, and Harpar Palate. She is an experienced essayist, with work in Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and many others, a Pushcart Prize, and eight listings in the notable sections of Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading.