“Bella’s Last Song” by Evelyn Deshane

Her breathing inside the room is a sonata
& you count in tune on the monitor.

When her breath catches, the sound crashes down;
the beat is lost & the song is no longer in tune.

You rise from your feet to check her pulse. Pause.
Line two fingers up with the wrist & count in time.

You remember this action from music class. The seconds tick by.
She is breathing, she is alive. You’re still thinking of

eighth grade music. You played the flute when you wanted drums.
You hold your ear up to her lungs. You hear the fluid stuck inside.

The beat is lost. The tune is gone. You think she has gone & died
then another cacophony in her cough. Her skin is rough inside your hand.

You kiss her once, then let go. You withdraw the vial.
Nero played while Rome burned, a small tune to keep himself going

but inside the beast, you hear no tune. Fuck eighth grade music;
you understand monotony. There is no death rattle stuck inside the throat.

& there is nothing more depressing than hitting these notes.
You do not want to see her suffer, even if keeping her alive

gives you a song to sing & a life to lead. A reason for breathing. But she’s not
music, not a sonata, & never yours to keep. There’s a reason music’s music

& not a painting. You cannot hold it in your hands. You cannot close your ears
the way you close your eyes. You must let the sound of life wash over you,

you must experience it like a bullet hole. Then it is gone. Sometimes it comes back
inside your brain a chorus, a melody, a refrain. But it is gone. Songs are gone.

& Bella has no last words.

You’ve heard it all before, anyway. You know she looked good in white
& her hands smelt like sage & spices. She felt safe in your arms. She last saw your face

a week ago now. That is enough time. But what was the last sound she heard
when she died? You will never know, her sad last sonata. All you have are your

memories now, echo chambers of laughter & the moment you said you loved her.
It is that, you decided. Those were her last sounds. Love & laughter. A wedding day.

Whatever sound white can make. That is enough, you decide. You sit down and
cradle fate. She is silent as she dies. The room waits through the seconds.

Time pauses. Long caesuras of nothing. Then the second ticks by. Life remains as life
once was. & with silence or music, you must learn to live with it.  And go on.

—–

Evelyn Deshane has appeared in Plenitude Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Lackington’s Magazine. Their chapbook, Mythology, was released in 2015 with The Steel Chisel. Evelyn (pron. Eve-a-lyn) received an MA from Trent University and currently studying for PhD at Waterloo University. Visit them at http://evedeshane.wordpress.com