After setting down her plate of chicken,
red beans, and rice, Thelma settles in,
full skirt spilling over the folding chair.
She sips Diet Coke, her one concession
to a snug waistband, as she watches
her husband step up to the spotlight.
She closes her eyes, tries to forget
the other musicians crowding the stage
at this Thursday night open mic.
She opens her eyes once her husband
plays the first notes on his guitar
in this dim, smokeless club. She recognizes
the song, “Blue Moon.” He’s played it
at home many times, sometimes fast, sometimes
slow. The notes hang in the air
like perfume would if anyone wore it
nowadays. She shushes the thin girls
at the next table although she knows
his guitar is louder. He speeds up,
and rainstorm notes flood the narrow room,
obscuring the distant moon.
She imagines the notes rushing onto 14th,
nipping at the ears of couples.
A young man in a vintage suit
raises one eyebrow. Her sister Callie winces,
lifting a bottle of low-carb beer
to her black lips. Thelma sits up,
letting her dinner cool as she applauds.
Then an old man raises his horn,
bringing the song back to jazz.
HR-57 was a music venue in DC