Hearing Scott Joplin--on the anniversary of your death
by Ann Howells

Scott Joplin this morning—
tinkles in from somewhere down the hall.
That tinny piano melody
wove the fabric of our days. You loved
its music-box sound, pranced
and quick-stepped the kitchen, hips switching
as you dunked a teabag, sliced an apple.
That was before surgeries, pain,
amber bottles lining bathroom shelves,
kitchen counter, bedside table.
Still, Joplin calls to mind your small pink mouth
singing scat to The Entertainer or Maple Street Rag,
“doo doo da da doo da doo da,” dark curls bouncing.
That day, you washed and set your hair;
your make-up was perfect as you tuned the radio,
settled in a cushy chair,
pressed the gun to your heart,
pulled the trigger with your thumb.

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