it came into our lives unexpectedly

like an unwanted child

rudely shoved into the living room

through the narrow doors

by two white-shirted beer-bellied

brutes heaving and grunting like

pigs in heat


i remember it arriving

on a hot summer afternoon

charged on dad’s meager pay


once in the house

our lives would never

be the same


many a night

i would sneak from bed

down the hallway

to peek through the door

where mother and the beast

engaged in battle

like knights of old

jousting for honor


mother slouched over the stool

her eyes dreamlike


hair disheveled

each magical musical note

bringing her back to kinder times

before the weight of marriage

crushed her like a bulldozer


her fingers tickling those

ivory keys with tender notes of love

looking like a chinese sewing lady

in a garment shop


as if each note were

a perfect stitch binding

her life to a new scrap

of cloth


— A.D. Winans in The Next Parish Over: a Collection of Irish-American Writing, ed. Patricia Monaghan