Laura J. Braverman







SONATA in A, Op.69



A needle lands on turning disc

with scratch

sharp and quick,

traces wide black turns while slowly

thin lids close.

See a woman—her profile dimly lit.

So it begins then.

This is the breath that stillness breathes.


She is wrapped in it, suspended in a state

before sound—

until—up from the deep,

flow the first strains—

the long pulls on four taut strings.

Frail hands trail the arc even as they rest


with gentle tremors on well-worn knees.

The woman smiles, listens—as with an ear

for earth’s murmurs.

This is the breath that beginnings breathe.



A dance is an agreement—

set within the realm of arms entwined.

Two will stay bound for moments,

or years—until the dance is done.


Until the dancers part and cross the room.

She danced one night,

the eyes across burdened by a question.

He leaned in, took her with him—

steps forward—back, and a pause,

then straight across the floor again.


She followed but met his stare

with hesitation,

for fear of yielding.

Was Yes a promise of surrender—

or an invocation?



A slow summer afternoon—girl

of twelve counts clouds, white

folds of a dress

tucked beneath her knees,

narrow legs traced with fine threads,

blue and green.


Clouds shift. Winds rise. Tones fall

in lilting strides.

House breathes—

windows, doors—open, close.

Bodies drift in, out.

Feet cross the grass. Little sisters run

in circles round the oak. The secret

of not knowing propels their legs.


Girl smiles—the late amber light

sings. Of missing those

not yet loved,

morning falling on a cheek,

of hearing tides in breath

of sleep.



The needle lifts—separates

from spinning black and moves to edge’s

rest. Thin lids open.

Soon the tall clock will strike—

strike the silence after sound.

So it begins then.







Things dance in this world—circling round, as in a fugue.

Divergent forces in a harmony of voices,

turn back to meet beginnings with an end. Water

currents swirl, stream—a ceaseless movement over pebbles

rolling on the riverbed. And I, I stretch in long glides—

swim and dive, suspended in the deep—reach towards flight.


I make my body long—my spine, my limbs, extend in flight,

as braided strains circle and give chase in a fugue.

Tones resound and repeat—a cello calls. I glide

down, down, to indigo and quiet—beyond sound, voice.

There, I reach out to shelter rounded pebbles

in my hand. Tightly, I hold on. Above me is only water.


What does loss leave behind? Can I transform, with water’s

help, my dazed sorrow? I will stir it towards an arching flight—

over salt tears and salt seas, or sweet rivers with their pebbles.

I reach out to grasp cold earth. Tightly, I hold on. The fugue

sounds the dirge: We place your ashes in the dark. While the voices

of trees pronounce: Though we bury ashes, Spirit glides.


I reach out to touch the box filled with pale ash. Wind glides

through oak, birch, maple, pine. Candles flicker; no water

will put out these flames. I draw tightly in. Your voice

comes back: now gravel-edged, then caught in humor’s flight.

Can I still call? Will you come back, as the voices of a fugue?

Water answers in endless progress, streaming over pebbles.


Fingertips reach, skim the edge of riverbed and pick a pebble.

Mountain turns to pebble, blood to ash. So your spirit glides,

free to wander over peaks. Free to meet me in the fugue.

I will see you swim again—slow, steady—through the water.

Absence joins with what is found. Chant of trees, flight

of birds, changing winds—all give your absence voice.


I stand here now, above your grave, and hear my voice,

as if detached. I wish the trees could speak instead. Or a pebble

on the soil perhaps, a lasting anchor to your final flight.

Now I place my hand on wet earth, and pray to glide

among the worlds—of rock, of wind, of water.

I pray to hear your voice again, woven in the fugue.


We go down. A voice must call. We end—we glide,

through the dark, far river. Pebbles dance with water.

We stretch towards flight, hear the strains of a fugue.




Two Doors


Room of climbing trees

green blades, twigs, wind—wordless hymn

you must choose your way


Midway between four walls, I stand.

No windows in this place with floor of packed

sweet-scented loam and wizened leaves—

no roof, but columns rise—

trunks of spruce, larch, rowan, beech.

My hands spread wide can touch

the rugged skin of two twigged souls,

so close are they,

so many.


Far above, a canopy of green, close knit.

Only slivers of light steal through

to my bare feet. The edges of leaves prick

against my soles.


Through branches, I see a weathered door,

and when I turn, one more behind.

I know the names of these two doors, do you?

The one in front: let go.

The one in back: hold on.

What is this letting go?

An overworked command—words tossed round,

wrung out,

so they mean nothing anymore.


Yet, here stand the doors, with their changeless names.

So, how then? What?

This letting go—I could just as well command

a new shoot: bloom! Why don’t you? Now!


The tall green souls murmur. Do you have enough

of pain? Let go.

If not—stay taken with your yearning,

enchanted with being broken.

Hold on.












Laura J. Braverman studied fine art and apparel design at Rhode Island School of Design, and worked internationally in apparel for many years. In addition to painting, she now focuses on writing, having completed a writer’s certificate in creative nonfiction with Stanford University. She worked with nonfiction writer Sven Birkerts at the Bennington College graduate writing seminars, has taken numerous courses in poetry and essay with the New School, and worked with poet James Arthur. Her work has appeared in the prose anthology Mountain Stories, and the poetry journals Live Encounters, The BeZINE, Mediterranean Poetry, and is forthcoming in California Quarterly.







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