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Consumption

My ears ring obbligato to her plaint,
or if it's just the rattled panes,
abused speakers' whines,
the neighbors will be calling.

But Violetta's more alive than usual,
has that fierceness in her soprano
belying any hints of lacking air.
I do not think she will die
betrayed by singing such,
or that she is a slut, not make-believe.

I've glimpsed the librettist's subtle lie.
There was no love when Alfredo powdered,
screaming whore whore,
but he knew that going in.
Scared off more by contagion,
hints of incessant coughing
keeping him up nights.
But he's related to a baritone.
Let papa guard your back, boy.
Let papa ease her off.

***

So I've been wondering, mother,
when you'll be turning Alfredo
(and no it isn't sauce, so don't you start
screaming about the cheeses you can't buy
less concerned with his death than your diet).
When you'll be scared off more by
hints of incessant dying
keeping you up nights.

But I forget, you have no papa
to guard your back,
to ease him off.

Don't ask me will he make it
through the day, the week,
arise to shout his life like
Violetta must before she can go home.
But my father never could sing, his voice
worse even than mine.

***

Violetta's more alive than usual
though her Amami, Alfredo! still hints
suspiciously of pasta,
and how she can think of eating
at a time like this,
should be like Karen Carpenter
let rainy days and sundaes get her down.

She's still singing, that soprano wraith.
And if I hit replay, rewind, I find
I can always bring her back.