Volume 21, Number 4

Stephen Has Lost Almost Everything

He’s lost his wife, his three sons, his home, his piano,
his car, his driver’s license, his checkbook, his credit cards, his credit,
his neighbors, his friends—at least those who don’t understand.

He’s even lost the glass ball his mother gave him when
he was six and fascinated by the wild snow
he could create for the tiny city inside.

Stephen has lost almost everything
except whiskey, his job, and Oscar Peterson.

He does have an apartment, a mattress, one set of sheets,
two towels, three shirts, three pairs of pants, underwear,
a coffeepot, two cups, two glasses, three bowls, several pieces of silverware,
an old record player, and more of Oscar’s recordings than he can count.

When he climbs onto his mattress in the darkness
and listens to Oscar’s hands on the keys,
he believes the dead come back to us.

—Carol Bell