with rosy cheeks, silver hair shined by a steel
blue rinse, and a "these are my own teeth"
half smile. But her looks belie an iron will.
Stella snaps at everyone at Sunnyside Care.
She shrouds herself pretending deafness
and keeps her hearing aid on low.
My mom cries and forces me to view
a scrapbook with black and white photos
veined like stone.
There's a montage of Stella circa 1949,
tribute to a skater dedicated to the sport.
Mom recounts a shining hour:
Stella in sequined chiffon skating to
"Moonlight Sonata," her fancy footwork
and flip jump besting the competition,
the layback spin amid wild applause;
the pop of the flash as she spirals
into the spotlight to accept a trophy cup
that ten years hence,
will inexplicably serve as a doorstop.
A yellowed clipping contains the caption:
"Hometown Skater Triumphs,"
but it crumbles like an autumn leaf.
Stella is wheeled into music therapy,
gliding on a polished floor.
The first movement of a melody blares,
mournful and hypnotic...
A young skater waltzes, gains speed,
and spins in the storm of a sonata...
until the hard crunch of her toe pick
and the dimming of the spot.
Ellen teaches literature in a public high school. She is a professional folksinger and lyricist, whose love of folk music has influenced her poetic style. She especially enjoys reading fiction and recording her lyrics. Her most recent publications (2017) include Red Flag Poetry (Poetry Express), Madness Muse Magazine, and issue 48 of The Paterson Literary Review (April 2020).