In the living room
In my family’s living room, I reminisce about an old music machine and its feeling that I took for granted.
In the living room
I sometimes hear
Faint phantoms of music—
Soothing the silent space
Between my brain and two ears.
They spring from the mantle—
A pocket-sized red box
Next to fake flowers and a mini altar
Housing incense and a metal statue of
Guanyin who sits with her eyes closed,
Left hand holding a gourd,
Right hand raised chest level
In Karana Mudra.
But the music machine is long gone—
The years took their toll,
The energy ran out,
The body now buried in a landfill,
Far away from any listeners.
Yet I sometimes believe
It is still here.
I wrote this poem while sitting on my living room couch. For some reason, the music of that old music machine came up in my head, and I felt a sense of longing and nostalgia. It was one of those portable Buddhist praying and chanting machines, and I didn’t understand any of the words coming out. I have, however, heard it ever since I was a kid, and I associate it with my grandmother from my mom’s side. Currently, she lives in China, the other side of the globe from where I reside. When I was in elementary school though, she lived here with us, but like the music machine, she was a constant presence that I took for granted. I didn’t appreciate her enough when she was here, and I regret not forming a close bond with her. As much as this poem is about the music machine, it is also about my maternal grandmother.
Carolyn Zheng is a freshman from Massachusetts who hopes to one day be an author. She loves band, math, Spanish and English classes, but when she’s not in school, you can usually find Carolyn with her nose tucked in a book. She also tries to practice her trumpet, which she has been playing for four years, with some success. Carolyn is ambitious—she has too many goals and dreams floating around in her head to count.