My Dog Has Fleas
“Check your tuning and play it again,” she had said, her staccato heels like a metronome on the hardwood floor. It was the first time he had heard it. The timbre of her voice had betrayed her in his perfect ears. His life would change. He had not needed to check his tuning. Somberly, he had played and watched her sway in the velvet tones.
Now Grandmother, her dark skirt billowing and rapping against fragile legs, held Mother in a shiny pot that clanged like tiny cymbals when its lid was removed. He planted himself beneath the solitary tree and heard its whispered prayer brush the hairs of his neck. His tie chuffed languidly as the wind caught its breath.
Beneath a struggling sky he brought the violin to his chin and began the deft process of tweaking pegs. He closed his eyes and a current of air like the wispy touch of Mother’s fingers placed his own on the neck. My Dog Has Fleas, he heard her intone. He listened as each pitch slid, sprang vibrantly into color and was then snatched away.
The sobs of mourners, ragged as saw-blades, cut through his ears as he began to play, forging the dissonant intervals of his heart. Unrehearsed, the tribute poured from him, polished pain. A breeze in F# picked up his song, along with the dusty essence of his mother. The gray cloud swirled and swayed as he watched her dance in his music one last time.