Jonathan Lewis

Survivor’s Song

I play Le Dor Va Dor on the antique piano
by the window. A candle smolders on the ledge
where I made space, pushing back years of dust. One
small flame triggers memories of ink-stained arms,
the rise and fall, fingers that press instinctively.
Each note sounds hollow, but the window’s open
all the way, and when I play the neighbors have to hear.
My own take on the childhood prayer ends suddenly
on a low D. Index finger presses against the key,
lets go, then bears down harder. Boom. Boom. Boom. Six
times the note tolls, echoes through the tiny room
like the medieval clock whose chime shook cobbles in the streets
where I once played. Because she loved my music then.
Because today she would have wanted me to play.



Jonathan Lewis is the author of Babel On, which won the 2017 L+S Press Mid-Atlantic Chapbook Series contest. He is also the recipient of a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities individual artist fellowship, and is a two-time finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award from Poetica. Lewis lives in Washington, DC, where he is Editor of the Federal Poet, and co-hosts the annual Poet's Corner reading at the Literary Hill BookFest.