Spinning Vinyl

By Sharon Coleman

she shed words like her sister’s hand-me-down anger          mis-sewn dress

she folded into slow july streams, tall dry grasses              over warm granite

of a coast they were moved up and down       too many times        she slept

where the first story               was hammered into the second              across

a threshold nailed shut                                       the new music of those years

was sadder than the old             she’d sit in her grandmother’s wooden chair

mouth words              blackberry thorns          ripe fig’s skin            raw lemon

she sat spine straight                                    in those years the muscles inside

her thighs grew taut       stomach toughened        contour awoke in her face


she held the needle over a spinning record               poised to scratch or play

she re-played mustard jars her sister threw, and butter knives             against

another new home                as old as it was                her sister tried to settle

sanded the floors of the first story              the second hovered beyond them

when the stone fireplace grew to the ceiling           her sister walked into flames

their father pulled her out                long hair smoldering                small flames

at the edges of her blouse                wetness straightened waves of their hair

the sisters took turns               on the kitchen stool                their mother took

a long comb, pointed scissors     evened them out in ways her mother could


in those years radios buzzed flat seventies’ songs            lodged like fallout

at the back of her throat                records her sister had brought home, left

when her sister left        she listened to coastal winds that coursed through

a gap in the hills, eddied in her ears                                   she pulled her hair

down over them                   over warm cave walls                   vibrating bone

she took to music older than grandmother’s wooden chair         her mother

hummed notes simply         without words             cut squash and tomatoes

took out mozart and satie    whose flaking covers smelled of acid and earth

whose music wrapped in patterns                  her spine branched into sound


she moved her bed and unread books                           books her sister sent

to the story above                                    a crate of old music stashed behind

her grandmother’s chair      she sat    away from the geiger counters of men

and their songs                          muscles broadened over the back of her ribs

her cheeks drew back to their framework                    the house below grew

distant, quieter anger              september weeds folded into dust           sand

loosened clay-lined soil    she deepened creases in the spines of old books

she began in chalk           continued in pencil              she hummed to words

ocean wind       buckling threshold         spirit fire       over the spinning vinyl

Sharon Coleman’s a fifth-generation Northern Californian with a penchant for languages and their entangled word roots. She writes for Poetry Flash, co-curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-directs the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She the author of a chapbook of poetry, Half Circle, and a book of microfiction, Paris Blinks (Paper Press, 2016).