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Dry Spell


Night after night, the evening

outraces me — sky darkening


before I can slide rosin against horsehair

or warm up my fingers for their practiced dance.


My body tires of the city’s wiry existence

before I can bring myself to face it.


Close up, the violin has such a beastly body—

I have concluded that monsters like this


blossom out of refinement, rendering

perfect mouths ready to sing. And me—


I never thought my hands could roil

the night with such wintry touch.


I never thought hands could be emptied

of more than a bow and wooden body,


but that they could be wrung dry of song, too.

Even after the music ends, my hands remain


hands. My eyes remain eyes. But my body:

plum-dried, stucco-tongued, searching for water.

Esther Sun is a Chinese-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems have been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and they are forthcoming from or have appeared in Vagabond City, Euphony Journal, Élan, and Blue Marble Review. Esther is a 2020 American Voices Nominee for the Bay Area Writing Region.

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