by Jo Ann Baldinger
Only after the others have packed up and gone only after silence clarifies across the empty stage and softens the velvet cushions; it’s only thenhe lifts me off my side onto my tail-pin,leans me against his hip, supports my long neck, and tilts his own neck toward my sloping shoulderfor I am lighter than I look, and filled with air. His chest cradles me, another breathing box filled with air. This is the holy time, beforethe song begins. Only then does he lift the bowand turn toward me, and charm the song that risesfrom the sea bottom of my belly and finds its shapes in my hollow curves. Drum beat, heart beat, dark breath,music such as drowning sailors might hear.