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Shosholoza | Blake Harrsch

The engines. The buses. The bustle.

A December Monday with students

eager to be released. Above, snowflakes

eager to erupt. Like candy in a piñata belly.

Like bad news on the tip of a tongue.

Like the crackling of a school loudspeaker

when your principal announces

your best friend is dead.

 

When you are stunned. Vision blackening.

Breathing belabored. When the floor caves in

and there is nowhere but the Blackbox Theatre.

Where a choir teacher and theatre director stand,

staring at their outstretched palms. Wondering

if they shrunk or if the world grew too heavy.

Behind them, the classroom door—

a cave to the unimaginable.

 

Inside, set pieces from a decade

of musicals arranged in reunion:

End tables from the Beast’s library holding tissues.

The couch of Eliza Doolittle’s elocution lessons 

holding friends holding each other. The silence

that only opened for cries of mourning.

 

The darkness cultured on the walls. The floor.

Multiplying. Creeping into every space.

Filling our backpacks. Twisting into

our shoelace braids. Coating our chests.

 

The world turning so slow. Spinning so fast, blurring

the week until the funeral. The service. Where we sung

“Shosholoza.” The Zimbabwe choral arrangement you loved.

Move forward on those mountains.

You are running away on those mountains.

You have climbed the mountains into heaven

and now we cannot catch you.

 

Singing to a church’s top balcony. Our ears

searching for answers in the crescendos.

The wavering decrescendos, not written in the score.

Throats closing, burning. Inflamed with frustration that

a place could be better than here. Our conductor lowering

his hands to his heart. The fermata ending.

 

The hush covering the choir. The falling into arms.

The wailing of your mother like the Pietà.

A shrieking siren guiding the hearse to the cemetery.

 

The graveyard of frosted trees, barren in solidarity.

Observing. Standing above the abduction site

where aliens stole a sandwich of earth,

leaving behind a mahogany lunchbox

impersonating you. A priest lying.

 

His sermon the soundtrack to falling carnations

thrown into the ground. The delicate crash of

yellow petals on a coffin. The softer comprehension

that no one would create this world on purpose.

 

Blake Harrsch is a poet corporeally in New Jersey with a writer’s heart determined to capture stories beyond such geographic and temporal bounds. She is an English Literature Master's candidate and writing instructor at Seton Hall University. @blakeharrsch, blakeharrsch.com.

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