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Frozen Accordion


Magical, we said—

snow arriving just in time for Christmas.

You and I walk in it while all is calm

before the cars will burst

my siblings and their gift-bearing ilk onto the yard

their sharp teeth cutting pretty griefs

into the surface of the day.

For now, we lift our feet through white fluff

softening the highway’s shoulder. A spray

of black feathers—stiff as sticks—point toward sky  

stopping you mid-word.

With gloved hands, you scoop out a bird, barely

a fist, yellow and black wings

opened like an accordion

frozen before sound.

A tremor rises in my throat.

Four more times we see the pleated notes

of grounded song. One hand in mine, your other

flings these notes to rest on the embankment,

away from oncoming cars.

One could make a garland of these griefs—we’d all have our own— string them with telephone wire and wrap around

the tree under which we’ll all gather.

I’ll wonder if that accordion will ever play again,

the one Dad brought out each Christmas Eve

when we were younger and it was easy to laugh together.  

Goofy smiles, polka-dancing feet, jolly air

pushed and pulled through bellows. Even the reeds sang.

About the Author

Charlene Kwiatkowski is a Canadian writer whose debut poetry chapbook ‘Let Us Go Then’ was published in 2021 with the Alfred Gustav Press. Her work has appeared in Arc, Barren Magazine, PRISM international, and elsewhere. She works at an art gallery and occasionally blogs at and tweets @char_k23. Charlene lives in Coquitlam, BC with her husband, daughter, and newborn twin sons.

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