Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Dissonance and Consonance"

This poem is from the September 18, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from e_scapism101.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the Monster House series, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.

Dissonance and Consonance

On the last day of school,
I found the music teacher sitting in the swingset
and trying not to cry.

"Don't worry, Miss Sally," I said to her.
"You'll see all of us again in the fall."

"No I won't," she said.
"I just found out that the school
can't afford to renew my contract.
They're cutting the whole music program.
I don't even know if I can stay in town --
my landlord is selling the apartment building."

"Well, why don't you walk me home,"
I invited.  "You can at least have supper with us."
"Your parents won't mind?" she asked.
"It's not the first time someone has
brought home company," I assured her. 

The house reeked of paint and plaster
and sawdust from the new addition still under construction.
Workmen banged away with their hammers, extending
the second floor of the house over the whole of the first floor.
"When it's finished, my brother and I will each have
a room of our own without needing to clear the office," I explained.

My mother spit out the nails she had in her mouth
and tucked her hammer through its belt loop.
"I hope there's not a problem with school," she said.
"Not exactly," I said, "but the music program's been canceled
and that leaves Miss Sally at loose ends.
So I invited her to supper."

"Well, there's plenty of ham and beans to go around,"
my mother said, "but we might need more biscuits."
Two of the guys on the roof were unemployed,
helping us in exchange for free food and a work reference,
so we'd eaten crockpot meals most of the month.

I left Miss Sally on the couch in the living room
and headed into the kitchen, which smelled
of pork and baking bread, and oh,
the sharp-sweet tang of rhubarb pie.
A loud voice rang out, "No!  Get out of the oven, you little --"

The bogeyman was juggling a hot tray of biscuits in one hand
and pulling the radiator dragon by the tail with the other.
The dragon growled around a mouthful of biscuit,
its tiny paws screeching along the wire rack of the oven.
Suddenly the rack slid out and crashed to the floor.

"Is everything all right in here?"
Miss Sally asked, coming up behind me.
The bogeyman let go of the dragon, who retreated
to the radiator still growling around its prize.

"Just ... fine," the bogeyman said through his pointy teeth
as he wiped one hand on the frilly apron
that said My kitchen, my rules.

"Those biscuits look delicious,"
Miss Sally said to the bogeyman.
"Would you like some help making more?"

The bogeyman's smile went
from shark  to sunshine  in an instant.

I helped package supper for the two roofers,
ham and beans in plastic tubs, biscuits in tinfoil,
and the last of yesterday's cookies for dessert.

It was all good, when we sat down to eat,
and if I sneaked a bit of rhubarb under the table
for my seeing-eye gremlin, nobody said anything.
My parents and Miss Sally talked about the school budget
and the importance of art and music programs,
and whether something else might be arranged
by various parents and students who wanted lessons.

"And in the meantime, you're welcome to stay here,"
my mother said.  "The living room couch folds out."
Miss Sally narrowed her eyes at the monster-under-the-bed,
who had tied bells to her shoelaces while she sat there.
"I sleep upstairs," he said hastily.
"Very well," Miss Sally said.

So Miss Sally came to stay with us for a while,
and I got to schedule music lessons all summer,
and the next day when I came home from the swimming pool
there was an impromptu concert going on.

Miss Sally was singing a folk ballad.
The troll had a pipe drum
made from actual pipe that he hit with a hammer,
and the bogeyman was playing a bone flute,
his long thin fingers flittering over the holes.

I took out my tinwhistle
and began to fill in the blank spaces between notes.

Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, economics, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, music, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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