Through the slats
of a powder blue staircase

bright red bougainvillea
a neighbor chatters
someone practices the piano
the dog perks his nose to sniff
the crow caws
between words of a conversation
I listen hard to hear.

I catch the word never
through a line
of wooden wind chimes

The practice of chords
becomes the piano lessons I once had
black notes in a red book
kept in the bench
I loved to open.

To play something over and over
without love
but comfort
knowing black keys and white
the confidence of fingers

A woman sits on her back stoop
gesture of hands
you never know she says
smoking a cigarette
puffs in the air
two butterflies
the shimmer
of the japanese maple.

When she throws a black sweater
across her shoulder
and goes back inside
I miss the wafting of words
across backyards
filled with morning glories
but the piano continues
its sad repetition.

A girl carries a black cat
up the back steps
I imagine it old
mine lived for 20 years
soaking its brittle bones
into patches of sun.

And the words rise again
through different doorways
muffling I didn’t
through the spin of traffic
Let’s go

A door slams
and the piano stops
and babies wake up from naps
and someone is saying
I know
I know
I know

over and over.

- Susan Dambroff

Susan Dambroff’s poetry has been published in several anthologies and literary journals including POETS 11 2008, The Noe Valley VoicePoetry San Francisco,Americas Review, and Earth’s Daughters. She’s also been published in three anthologies of poems dealing with the Holocaust: Blood to Remember (Time Being Books), Ghosts of the Holocaust (Wayne State University Press), and Images from the Holocaust (NTC Publishing Group). A book of her poems, entitled MEMORY IN BONE, was published in a limited letterpress edition in 1984 by Black Oyster Press. Susan is a poet, performer, mother, and Special Education Teacher living in San Francisco. Her poem "Without Regrets" will be published in the spring 2017 issue of Stoneboat.