Essential Work


If art is not essential, what is?



Full Text:


My mother plays the piano for a living,
and when the virus hit, she said, only half-kidding,

that there is no job less essential than that of one
who accompanies another’s music.

Still, in the afternoons, from the nook
of my room, I hear her practice, as if in secret,

La Campanella, the flurried notes of a song
she will never need to play. When her fingers

slip and the notes clash, she tries again,
and when she finally stops for the day, the house

feels more empty. I am reading, usually,
while she plays, and when we’ve both finished,

we meet in the kitchen, where together we consume
the essentials: food and water, which sustain us

only for the hours until the next meal.