By Sunni Brown Wilkinson
The young man who flies from New York to Salt Lake to fill in for a famous pianist (stomach flu) is also a famous pianist. We are second row at the symphony, and the pianist is skinny in skinny dress pants, and he plays a song like lanterns crashing. Something modern. But first he plays Beethoven. We watch him sway on the piano bench, eyes closed, anchored by his torso and pointed leather shoes, and I wonder about his mother. How many hours of practice did she hear? The Emperor Suite over a screaming pot of tea. Endless staircases of Chopin while she plucked his clean underwear from the basket, folded the waistband in half, tucked under the crotch. And for all the art about Paris or the sea, why not more about laundry? Why not more about children, about asking them to make their beds, teaching them to pee like grown-ups: elbows on their knees, legs swinging while they wait, wait, wait for it to come. Afterward the curved pink mark on their bottoms, a funny frown. Sweet Mary Cassatt, what do I owe you? What can I give you who are both hands and mirror? In The Bath the beautifully plain mother washes the feet of her daughter. The two look down together like suburban saints. Quiet, ceremonial. In the cathedral of night, mothers bow over a bed, kiss eyelids thin as the skin of a peach, faces already flushed with the fever of dreams. We bow to molecular division, embryo, the made becoming the maker. My son on an evening walk at four years old says the moon looks like a floating egg mama I love living on earth.
Sunni Brown Wilkinson holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Her previous work has been published in Rock & Sling, Tar River Poetry, Weber: the Contemporary West and other journals and anthologies and has been nominated for two Pushcarts. She currently teaches composition and creative writing at Weber State University and lives in Ogden, Utah with her husband and three young sons who are experts on dinosaurs.