I hold the rosined bow,
Lowering it until
It grips the string,
Bringing forth a deep,
Mournful call.
The Director signals
For me to play quieter.
Because my beloved bass
Is much like
8th grade me,
Meant to stay
In the background,
And I’m currently
Overpowering the cellos.
But I’m lost
In the G string’s hum
And miss my cue
To be silent.

In algebra class
I lower the textbook
To my lap,
Fiction hidden
Inside of fact.
Lost in the rhythm
Of the words,
In living someone else’s life
Who’s not trapped
In an itchy, acrylic sweater
That brings out
The worst in puberty,
I miss my name
Being called.
I’m loudly late
To the chalkboard,
Not silent enough
In the face
Of the laughing class.

In my room,
I lower the record needle
To the grooved 45.
Volume up,
Sitting between the speakers,
Blaring The Motels’,
“Suddenly Last Summer.”
Mom is pounding on the door
Ordering me
To turn it down.
But I’m lost
In the melancholy
Of the minor key
And I miss
The repeated banging
Until the door opens
And she silences
The song.

Standing in front of the mirror,
Lowering my eyes
In the face of my reflection,
Oversized sweatshirt
And frizzy, permed hair.
I think I look like Stevie Nicks
But the first boy
Who kissed me
Says I’m not as pretty
As his ex.
I missed the place
I should have been quiet
Until I was faced with his letter.
If I close my eyes,
I can get lost
In the music
In my head.
I just wish I could learn
The art of silence.

Chris Dean writes from the heart of Indiana where they reside with their husband.