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Published: Friday, January 31, 2014

Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 16:01

To the water glass on my voice teacher’s radiator:

I worried that in the Louisiana heat or the
Louisiana air conditioning, you’d leave swollen rings in the wood when he set you on his desk.

He’d hold you while I sang. He’d drink from you when the treatment made his mouth dry or when he had to take a pill.

I wonder still if he’d always used the same glass. Have you been there as long or longer than the quilt on the piano? As long or longer than the yellow articles on his bulletin board? The pictures of students he loved like his children? The volumes and volumes of music bowing his shelves?

You’ve been clouded by years of harsh, New
Orleans tap water. My parents’ friends, when I was growing up, they had cups with the same thick, blue rim.

In one of my last lessons, when his energy flagged and his speech was slower, his wife filled you with water and brought you to him in his chair. And in my very last lesson, I filled you with water myself, the only time he’d ever responded when I’d offered to help. He was so tired.

And when I came to his studio the Tuesday after he died and the lights were mysteriously on and the door mysteriously unlocked, you were sitting beside his chair on the radiator under the window. Still half full with water. Next to you was the book he’d been reading with a flap of the cover tucked into a page. 

Emma Grimsley can be contacted at

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