My Late Husband Speaks to Me in Flute by Faith Shearin

My Late Husband Speaks to Me in Flute

He hated the flute when he was alive, hid
in the bathroom during our wedding reception
when a group of flautists appeared
around our three tiered wedding cake,

but now, ghostly, he speaks through this
reedless wind instrument, which was
preferred by paleolithic musicians, who left
several behind in caves, fashioned

from the wings of vultures or the femurs
of juvenile bears; he might have spoken to me
in cello: his native instrument, the one
he played in life, sending messages

in fifths, through Sonatas,
but those low register notes must be
unappealing to the dead whose communications
are ethereal. The first time was after

I opened a letter from the IRS when the radio
began playing an unexpected hour
of Indian classical bamboo flute
and it continued through

all the months of plague and isolation, once
drifting through the speakers of my next door
neighbor’s yard when he found me weeping,
music chortling in imitation

of a blackbird; he sent me
Mozart’s Flute Concerto #2 in D Major,
his Concerto #1 in G. My late husband grew
up at a music school, competing for

first chair, dragging his cello
over snow drifts to orchestra pits
where he turned his face
towards the conductor with the raised

baton and I know he is elsewhere
but thinking of me which is like time
moving in harmonic vibrations, like breath
pressed against a hollow tube.


Faith Shearin’s books of poetry include: The Owl Question (May Swenson Award), Moving the Piano (SFA University Press), Telling the Bees (SFA University Press), Orpheus, Turning (Dogfish Head Poetry Prize), Darwin’s Daughter (SFA University Press), and Lost Language (Press 53). She has received awards from Yaddo, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Recent work has been read aloud on The Writer’s Almanac and included in American Life in Poetry.