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Fahmidan Journal / Issue 17 


by Celeste Pfister


for E

My youngest daughter has lived these two years in Italy searching

for her voice. Her little-girl lilting soprano that rapidly melted into 

a young woman’s mezzo is still changing—contralto, she says now

and the opera she dreams of singing awaits the fullness 

of her final transformation.  My mother in her enduring alto tuned 

my voice to the pitch of philosophers, educators, 

priests, and writers.  Once, just before she died, my mother 

told me she had been a poet, an artist and a bitch

but when I asked her to tell me about the poet she turned 

her head away in silence I mistook for vexation and disapproval.

When my daughter and I get together    infrequently these days

I feel uncertain where to begin.  My voice falters as I wait


for her direction as though she holds the conductor’s baton

and she, fearing I have nothing to say, mistakes my silence 

for reproach, my hesitation for uncaring.  She summons the courage 

to raise her voice to me, its urgency compelling, filling her eyes

with tears that draw me back to the old need of my mother’s voice.

I cry too then we are crying together, two violins playing Barber’s Adagio

that becomes our duet in which I hear my own song 

dedicated to her.

Celeste Pfister

Author / 

Celeste Pfister has long been writing poetry in the shadows of her roles including mother, physician, teacher, mentor, writer, artist, musician. She has taught literary courses and has been published in Persimmon Tree, Hearth & Coffin, Reunion (Shodair Children's Hospital), and The American Psychoanalyst. She publishes a bi-weekly blog, "Creative Inspiration," on topics of art and poetry. She lives in Venice, Florida. Find her at, on Instagram as @celestialmixedmediaworks.

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