The nurse had to help us into the rocker,
Liana tangled among her tubes, in my arms.
her machine hummed a little;
the chair began a creaking beat;
it seemed natural to sing.
At first lullabyes, children’s songs;
then everything I could think of.
“Gonna wash that man right out of my hair”,
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”,
even “Jingle Bells”, though it was September, October.
We sat there, six stories up,
the rain tight against grey windows,
my voice forced out in narrow, cracking tunes,
her breaths becoming measured, steady.
her dark, solemn eyes never left my face.
She didn’t care if I cried:
maybe she thought tears made music.
I didn’t have to be an opera star for Liana,
or even remember the right words.
anyway, she never knew any words.
I was her one poet chorus
and she was an audience-and-a-half,
six stories up, above all the church choirs,
above the Paramount Concert Hall,
above all the music critics who ever panned a show.
Judith Offer has had two daughters, five books of poetry and dozens of plays. She has read her poetry at scores of poetry venues, but is particularly delighted to have been included in the Library of Congress series and on “All Things Considered”, on NPR. Her most recent book of poetry, called DOUBLE CROSSING, is poems about Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, Stuart.