Releasing a flight of birds by gillian harding-russell

Poem title: Releasing a flight of birds Poet name: gillian harding-russell Poem begins: When the doorbell rang at eight o’clock my mother taking breakfast dishes to the sink told me to answer it but I did not know what to do standing at the open door with sunlight streaming in on this small man in straw hat and sunglasses, frail and looking off towards the dogwood blossoms unfurling new scent-sparking licks over the cement steps, when I noticed he held a cane precisely, like a staff beside his right foot, my mother calling over her shoulder, was that the piano-tuner? to let him in, she said coming forward with a damp dishtowel in hand to lead him into the living room, telling this quiet man the treble keys had lost the sparkle in their tiny voices and the bass was grating low flat, middle C a little hollow while the piano-tuner nodded very slightly behind dark glasses, said something and looked ahead where his eyes were unseen stars. For three hours he sat at the piano stool and pressed keys with soft deliberate touch, his fingers long and well-formed probing a tender nuance and crescendo, the top of the piano propped open to the living room air as now and again he stood up, stepped behind the raised oak lid to watch a small hammer on felt pad strike a copper string vibrating singly and then two or three strings together twanging, finally chords humming and strumming loud throughout the house when my mother asked, would he like a cup of coffee it had just been brewed, he did not hear, and she not wanting to interrupt, simply watched him from the bottom of the stairs, sitting down on the last step as he improvised a flock of wild notes that soared through the house’s air seeking liberty from the white blank of silence and un-sight. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © gillian harding-russell First published in The Antigonish Review 167 (Autumn 2011). gillian harding-russell has five poetry collections published, most recently Uninterrupted (Ekstasis Editions, 2020), and a short chapbook Megrim (The Alfred Gustav, 2021). Her previous collection In Another Air (Radiant Press, 2018) was shortlisted for a City of Regina Award. Her poems have been short-listed three times for Exile’s Gwendolyn MacEwen chapbook competition, and in 2016 won first place for the sequence Making Sense. gillianharding-russell.ca