My brother loved the Schuman album, piano music,
in a way he would love nothing else for sure
except for railroads and rivers.
He learned the music on the baby grand piano
that took up half the living room,
leaning his plaid-clad body towards his hands,
repeating a measure or a lost, echoic chord.
in that room full of velvet, claw-footed furniture
left to us by Great Aunt Violet
who threw herself out the twenty-second story window
of the Waldorf Astoria in a gray, stiff suit of shame.
I took his SONGS FOR CHILDHOOD record,
obsidian, scratched from so many plays
and hid it underneath the mattress
where I dreamed of girls at night.
I made my brother cry, my parents
folded arms with panic, cried
Give it back. Give it back.
The whole world came back when I returned the record
as if rage and pure feeling were the dream.
On the turntable, in a deep cabinet, the vinyl
clicked down like a boulder falling unbroken,
and I was, for a long time,
the person who loved by taking away and giving back.
Elizabeth Crowell holds a B.A. in English from Smith College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from Columbia University. She taught high school and college English for many years and currently lives outside of Boston with her wife and two children.