My mother turned away
when I tried to sing
her eyes went down sideways
when I spoke about love.
She let me cry and try to play
on her piano when my ribs cracked
letting in inky thickness;
my hands trembling there
over the keys knowing that one wrong strike
would shave another hour from her life
she would sigh and stir her black coffee
laced with sugar and ice
tinking her spoon across the cup’s edges
wondering if there was any music
that would heal her, or if there was
any hope for me at all.