The Music House (in Tennessee)

by DAN O’BRIEN

The last room in the music house was mine for a year, shared with the half-deaf teacher of Faulkner and Joyce, whom I rarely saw, because I came late at night when the school was a sepulcher of sound, and the road a treacherous skin of ice. I walked here to sit in the humanlike hiss of steam- heat, the scent of all those moldering scores and the fugitive ghost of pine. The dregs of coffee drunk mid-afternoon. To wait for the first time. Until a student came whose footsteps sounded like a twin to mine: I sat listening through the wall as he played over and over again our same old song.

DAN O’BRIEN’s poems appear in 32 Poems, Margie, The Greensboro Review, Crab Orchard Review, Linebreak, and elsewhere. He is a former Hodder Fellow in playwriting at Princeton University. In 2011 he will be in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy, and serve on the playwriting faculty at the Sewanee Writers' Conference. He lives in Los Angeles.