I stayed home from school on winter days
when sickness meant a silent room,
ginger ale and crushed ice with a spoon.
The doctor came all blustery and stayed
beside my bed. He opened his black kit,
then heard thumpings in my chest he called
the Rabbit. A vaporizer burped and squalled
like witches muttering spells that summoned spirits
to invade my midnight dreams. Winged
creatures flew down attic stairs right through
my door. Fever made me clean and new
when I woke up, with Mother there beside me
dozing in the chair – still wearing her housedress –
an ashtray full of half-smoked cigarettes.
Great-grandfather claimed he heard music
from the sky while riding horseback
down lonely Rich Creek roads, or playing
his harmonica on the farmhouse porch at night.
Ghost music, he called it, or star tunes.
Some thought him muddle-minded,
but he longed for some angelic source
and scanned the heavens for a clue.
As a child I too heard night music with airy
spirit notes leaping from stars,
streaming through space. Soft rhythms
whirled toward the magnet of my bed,
soothing like willows bending and swaying
by the lake and the murmuration of birds
winging, swooping in patterns across the evening sky.
Closer now, sounds of strings and woodwinds
wrapped around me
till I slept, with visions of pine trees in the snow
where a prince disguised as a beggar played a flute.
© Kathleen Corcoran
Kathleen Corcoran grew up in Logan, West Virginia. After teaching for four years in Nigeria, she settled in Baltimore County with her husband, and both continued teaching until retirement. She is the author of a chapbook, Bloodroot, and has won two Maryland State Artists’ Grants. Recent publications include Gargoyle, Tar River Poetry, Paterson Literary Review, Spillway, Plainsongs, Comstock Review, and Loch Raven Review.