Sound exposing floor tiles, drumming to ceiling, embattled floor. Recorded music—Tchaikovsky—wolfs me down. I shut it off and beg myself to play. Baseboards glimmer a fine, clear yellow, hiding internal pipes, charting this dim-lit (Gothic-roofed) room. Two steel locks, one a deadbolt. Ten paces: one side to the other, twelve paces: front window to back. Flecked green carpet concealing any missteps, any bleeds. At my back, marble sculptures of Hermes, Aphrodite, somebody stabbing a deer with an arrow, somebody else turning into a tree. A woman, always a woman, who as we speak is shedding her green leaves. Chips on the statue’s elbows, poor imitations. Night parked inside the gold-plated piano: elegant, enormous blocked pedals, recorded voice calling that’s enough. Red camera eye blinking above, ready to record any error. To alert my father to poor attempts. He rented this room to try to save me. To let music conquer my impatience, my disease. So he claimed. Believe him? Never. I think of clouds like Arnaud says, of clouds spilling from bay windows, floating into gigantic hands. I think of his mouth saying andante. Saying hunger. Of my body, sheer anatomy. Dust and dust, and what—what makes the music? What does bone-tinged music want from me? I spoke to my stomach, said child, you won’t survive. And yet the child argued, told me he’d make it, called himself a not-yet-given name. Who heals? Who stutters? I catered to silence. And now, the music spills out, impatient, creams the leaved carpet, unable to be spoken to, unable to be contained.

REBECCA GIVENS ROLLAND has published fiction and poetry in the North American Review, Kenyon Review, and others. Her new chapbook, The Vine of Somewhere, is now available through dancing girl press. She currently lives in Boston.