Skip to main content

Shari's 33rd Annual New Year's Day Bash, a prose poem by Michael Brockley

Shari’s 33rd Annual New Year’s Day Bash
by Michael Brockley

Captain Wah Wah’s grandchildren, Sophie and Dylan, jitterbug across the hardwood floor of the dining room, switching partners between their parents and aunts. Chairs arrayed along the wall, the dinner table dismantled and tucked inside a workroom. On stage, Ben sews dead flowers in the Pancho and Lefty gospel. The bandit polished his guns for the underground queen to see. As dusk arrives, Dylan shivers into the skin of music, and starlight flickers at Sophie’s feet while she chants Cabbage stew for money; black-eyed peas for luck. She strews rose petals among the guests. Shortbread cookies cool in the kitchen. Orange-and-brandy cake. Apple-cranberry-walnut pie. One of the aunts spins Dylan head-to-toe around her waist as Shari sings “You Ain’t Goin' Nowhere.” Sophie twirls at the ends of Captain Wah Wah's fingers. Oh, oh, are we gonna fly/Down in my easy chair. Those of us who applaud snack on grapes left over from midnight. On cinnamon-flavored buñuelos for love. Sophie’s father perches his daughter on his shoulder as Stan fine tunes the happiness song. Dylan and Shari allemande. We each lean forward from our part in the evening, listening to harmonicas and fiddles. To someone singing “The Weight” for the first time. The grandchildren stretch the “and, and, and” of the chorus until we are all breathless. This is how music is born.