Porcelain Musician in a Child’s Bedroom

Who can tell you not to mourn the dust?

      If you want to mourn the dust, 

go right ahead; or the afternoon
light sending circles to kaolin feet— 
        some music taken in, some 
              not-music taken in—or 

the dresdened-londoned-unknown-by-
   history-or-imagination maker who 
 made her & died soon after, 
        nonliving that outlives 
      the living—oops! the critic said 
    don’t use abstractions—or the six

     of carbons from the start of time
  spinning as, not in, ceramic skin, 
    the keyboard unchipped as of this
writing . . . When the music lessons 
     went less well, your mother settled
for your writing, you could say 

  settled like dust on porcelain but 
dust, the noun & verb that is 
   a thing & isn’t, drifted, its dreamy
abstract qualities sent
         off with a cloth till nothing
    said you had to or you didn’t,—

Copyright © 2023 by Brenda Hillman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 26, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.