i.m. Dolly Sayers

She blew in, a big noise from Odessa, turned
cradle, nursery, parlour, house into ever larger auditoria,
swelling with her belter alto through contralto
figure flowing from violin, viola via cello to double bass
twirled and slapped by dance hall players;
marriage jumped to the rhythm of her castanets,
percussionist in the kitchen, entire brass section
at social events, trumpeting achievements, major,
minor, of children, grandchildren, swung towards
you, a bell, the great clapper of her tongue, ringing
with amusement, indignation; youth’s smart glissandi
eventually slowing in age to adagio, notes lengthening,
diminishing until at last she sat, a breve upon a stave,
great mute bird on a wire feeling only its hum.