“Whole Californias” (Flaubert)

I hear him playing in the night

through the floorboards

as I try to–cannot—sleep.


My husband who complains all through his

daily lessons always sleeps soundly

amidst these nightly private shows.


Daytime is bedlam here and the plinking of

incompetent pupils jostles with the

incessant squall of infants


and the sulky bulk of my husband,

sorry for himself because he has no work

and I, in consequence, too much.


I mend my musician’s clothes, probably,

but which is his of all I do?

which his wife’s? and which is mine?


I know I should worry about the price of

bread or whether Berthe’s cough might

catch and kill her


but a tune he plays is tickling me,

makes me want to dance again

as I did once, red and laughing,


until I fell into bed alone

uncaring, adrift on

whole Californias of dreams.


A moment’s silence, then new music

and I shrink towards my husband’s

unwelcome warmth.


Sometimes I wish he wouldn’t make

such sad sounds as I lie and

hear him playing in the night.

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  • jackiedick  On May 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    A plethora or musical sounds seem to serve as a reminder of ragged domesticity. And yet another tune tickles the sleepless one, and she wants to dance. Music, a reminder that when words fail, we turn to the art of no words, but sounds that pluck at the heart and soul.

  • nuggetsandpearls  On March 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

    This is lovely and I can relate to aspects of it, being a piano teacher! Thanks for sending me the link.

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