The past few mornings the weather has deceived us. Jack Frost has made it impossible for me to leave the house without preheating my car for at least five minutes, deglazing the windshield while begging for three more hugs from my daughter while she watches Wallykazam wave words into existence with a magical stick. This morning I listened to JJ Heller’s new CD (which is her best yet, by the way) while making my way through the chilly countryside. As I approached the long, winding hill connecting our part of the world to what resembles a city, I snapped out of my piano-tuned trance-like state as I noticed what looked like huge, puffy, white snowflakes fluttering by.
Was it really cold enough to be snowing? I felt confused, but I tried not to think too long or too hard about the facts. It was breathtaking. I nearly gasped and appreciated the view. The feather-like snowflakes silently passed by my car.
Suddenly my gaze moved ahead to a large, ugly, black truck. Oh. A chicken truck.
The feather-like snowflakes were not snowflakes. They were feathers—chicken feathers.
I initially laughed out loud at my own mistaken perception.
Two seconds later I felt devastated by reality. Hundreds of helpless, frigid birds boxed inside the ugly truck blinked at me.
With one of our chicks last spring
My mind immediately recalled a poem by Lola Haskins, “Playing Hiroshima.”
There are no finer audiences in the world
Andre Pogorelich, in Pianists Speak
Did you know the ones with colds wear surgical masks
so as to disturb no one?
Did you know their small hands lie folded in their laps
Did you know they kneel kimonoed for etudes, as tea
cooled by a mother’s breath?
Did you know that skin can fall like snow?
Softly . . . pianissimo?
–Lola Haskins, Forty-Four Ambitions for the Piano
Why my brain made this connection this morning—15 or 16 years after studying as a college student at age 19 or 20 under the tutelage of poet Andrea Hollander–I do not know.
But I do know this: what happened to me this morning when Lola Haskins’ poem came to mind is my lifetime goal as a writer–to create such significant impressions through writing–to lend my readers experiences, nearly, while reading–that they might make connections to my words through their own experiences years later.
There is no higher compliment. So here’s to you, Lola Haskins. And to you, Andrea Hollander, for being my conduit to a world of beautiful words.