Sometimes the Birds, at Random

by Sonya Taaffe

The pianist of the hedgerows
wears no tailcoat but the ivy,
no tie but the crabapple's crumpled leaf,
her cuffs linked with the spider's web of rain.
Her audience perches, crawls and burrows, passes
a derelict piano in a pile of briars
and takes a picture, to last longer
than the smell of cloud funnel and sticking keys,
the gnawed harp of strings
broken open to the sky
like the breast-cage of a splintered wren.
Fairy-sized on a phone.
A miniature dollhouse ruin.
The concerto she plays
is the wood winding deeper,
farther greens than a screen can hold:
a ringtone at night when no one answers,
branches cracking from a bedroom wall.
The seats are stuffed with leaves loosely applauding.
The canted keys slant grinning in the dark.
Those stars are fireflies, the moon a foxfire stump,
the sun the shrewd eye of the maze's musician
who widens a little, like a gap in the thorns,
to let you stagger out, but not away.


Sonya Taaffe’s short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), and in anthologies including Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, and The Best of Not One of Us. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and their two cats.

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