Past the Denkmal where our Lord’s nailed arms
point to and from Leipzig, where the cobblestones
start in the shadow of the oldest linden
and lead to the caverns of business,
Herr Wieck teaches theory and voice,
piano and violin. Instruments glisten for sale or rent,
and wooden stretchers for reluctant fingers beckon
to Hausfraus and their merchant husbands.
Herr Wieck marries, and his wife gives piano lessons
while their child Clara sits on the braided rug
absorbing the notes, blood beating time to the music.
Herr Wieck shouts and grips his wife’s arm, hissing
Ehrtrieb! Immer Ehrtrieb! but the child pays no mind,
eyes locked on the knot in the wall,
fingers tracing the braids.
In Berlin, remarried with a second family,
her mother dreams Clara walks into the Rhine.
Mud sucks the shoes from her daughter’s feet,
and sharp rocks shred flesh, trailing a path
followed by fish. Clara seeks the rings
Robert flung into the river,
the one she gave him when they became engaged,
a secret from her father, and the wedding ring
following Robert’s mind into darkness.
Face down, arms extended, Clara drifts
above the river bed, fingers tracing the stones.
Linda Scheller is the author of two books of poetry: Fierce Light, published in 2017 by FutureCycle Press; and Wind & Children published in June 2022 by Main Street Rag. Her poetry and book reviews are widely published in journals including Colorado Review, Arkana, and Gyroscopic Review. Her website is lindascheller.com.