Harmonica

by Eleanor Kedney

When it was clear my brother
wouldn’t kick his drug addiction
and return to all the things he was great at—
baseball, tennis, downhill skiing—
he still played the harmonica.

Once, at a summer wedding, in the lull
between the toasts and dessert
he took the band’s mic,
tossed his curly hair to one side,
and put the blues harp deep in his mouth—
puckered lips, blocked tongue,
the bending sound like a train
going through a tunnel.

My mother stood and clapped.
That’s Peter, she kept
saying.
That’s Peter.

                                   His eyes closed
to everyone in the room.
“Not Fade Away” took all his breath
to play.

Eleanor Kedney is the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Miramar Poetry Journal, MudfishThe Fourth River, Sliver of Stone, and other journals, and in several anthologies, including The Cumberland River Review: The First Five Years (Trevecca Nazarene University, 2018). Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio, and she served as the director and the advanced class teacher for ten years. Learn more at: www.eleanorkedney.com.

Artwork: “Pollywog,” by Jeff Kallet

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