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Delaware Poetry Review

Wendy Ingersoll


Every Easter weekend at our farm by the river
the bunny hid jellybeans.
My sister and I found them on dusty window sills,
behind the salt and pepper shakers, between

napkins in the wooden basket
on the long trestle table that was my grandmother's.
We'd pop them quickly in our mouths-
sweet was rare in our family. After the hunt

I always went to church with my cousin Rachel.
I'd dress up in my violet velveteen dress, white gloves,
white straw hat with the little veil.
My dad would take our picture,

waving among the irises running riot by the tractor shed.
Going to church made Easter
more than just a chocolate binge followed by
inevitable egg salad. I felt like normal people

from a normal family that didn't scream or throw dishes.
The church had stained-glass windows parading the Gospels.
During the sermon I studied the glass people -- so tasteful,
halos in place, with hair

that didn't frizz.
I fell in love with church.
I don't now understand
what god I was worshiping,

surely not the one who attended my wedding,
Father Perkin's god who took my groom aside
and warned him not to wed a Protestant.
Nor was my childhood god the one who

shrugged his shoulders when my sister
lost a second child, as if to say
What do you expect me to do about it?
And not the god who assigned my dad to lose

his memories, pockets of his brain turned
holey, everything sifting through. So many
gods there are out there,
like the wild geese who filled the sky flying

home those Easter weekends when I was young.
Who can tell which god to pick to pray to,
or if our one true god will just know
how to find us where we hide?

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Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a quantity of keyboard music:
preludes, fugues, inventions -- polyphony,
meaning fragments of melody interweaving like
knit and purl forming a scarf of sound, so that
by the time you play it from beginning to end,
you're adorned. You especially love
the Inventions, though most require practice to learn the canon,
the modulations. A few you can play straight off --
sightread -- meaning play new music for the first time,
without study. You can't explain this gift --
some power connects your eyes to your fingers like a single strand
of spiderweb, seeming fragile except it's there and
it's strong. Like when you breathe deep through
the diaphragm, count backward with your breaths--
that same feeling descends, you can sightread it.
As soon as you're aware, it vanishes, your mind
stumbles like your fingers do whenever
you start to think about the line of Bach you're playing--
how it completes itself, links to the next, how
precisely you breathe into it--
instead of just playing each measure as it comes to you,
letting the phrases lead you across the page.

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About the Poet

Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll is a piano teacher outside Newark DE. Her chapbook River, Farm, about Maryland's Eastern Shore, was published in 2005 by Bay Oak Publishers of Dover. She has published in Worcester Review, The Lyric, ByLine, Potpourri, Diner, Delmarva Quarterly, Broadkill Review, PoetsCanvas.org. Contests include first place in
the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild 2007 Conference contest and fourth place in the 1996 Writer's Digest Magazine Competition. These poems are from her manuscript-in-progress Working The Steps.