Father, You’re Standing at the Corner of Wabash and Ohio

Sarah Huddleston

Barrington, IL

Barrington High School

Poetry

and you pause and allow the world to pass by, and

for a moment, you hear footsteps resounding like

a swollen cello string, a sharp inhale, exhale,

a conductor’s hesitation. Each block ahead is

another measure to memorize, each exposed

steel frame and tripartite skyscraper a changing

key signature, and careful, watch out

for the five o’clock rush, when arpeggios

of black briefcases rush past like a Mozart

symphony, all rolling bows and quick phrases,

sliding into your skin, so elastic that

for a moment, you can ease your heartbeat

into a metronome that beats with

that one piece, yes, that one that made you

come here and leave Cleveland summers

behind, when all you had that was yours alone

was that car and evenings spent with that old

Russian teacher, practicing piano etudes until

each vein in your hand grew into tunnels

connecting your body to your song, and when

you heard that Shostakovich No. 10 for the first

time, all creeping strings, violent scherzos, mournful

waltzes, at once a requiem and an awakening, you

knew that you belonged where music cushions

every rush of blood, every synaptic impulse, and here,

stopping at this corner years later, those first few

notes dislodge themselves inside your mind, knocking

into Chopin’s Nocturne in E Minor, an actuarial

practice test sitting half-finished on your bare

mattress, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, your brother

driving your old chevy back east across I-90,

Haydn’s Sonata in D Major, your mother selling

the living room piano your senior year, Rachmaninoff

piano concertos, your father gripping the staircase

railing, hands trembling, slowly, slowly, paying

his hospital bills with scraped money and that

last summer spent alone, waiting, always

waiting for more music, more life and here

is all that Tchaikovsky & Bach &

Schumann & Gershwin—a clarinet slide,

a single, flat note buzzing down a reed,

your sister banging on the bathroom door,

yelling Let me in! Let me in! Let me in!

a sudden swell of the violins, your father’s

thick, shrapnel sliced leg— then: Ritardando,

your mother’s hand on the steering wheel,

father resting his cane across the dashboard,

sister and brother and brother and brother

pressed together in the backseat

sharing a box of nilla wafers

while the radio pulsed with that

expansive finale.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Reader: I don’t know what it is about Chicago that it yearns to be languaged in song, but print this little beauty up, fold it, put it in your suitcase, and when this mess of a pandemic is over, go it to Chicago and read it on the corner of Wabash and Ohio. I’ll be the guy with the same poem in my hand.

Sarah Huddleston is a seventeen-year-old writer from the suburbs of Chicago. She currently attends Barrington High School (class of 2021), where she serves as the Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper, as well as an editor for the literary and arts magazine. Her work has previously been published in The Heritage Review, Body Without Organs Journal, and the San Pedro River Review, and has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. When she is not dancing, Sarah dances ballet and enjoys experimenting with various vegan confections.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR