Young Orpheus

From the rearmost concert riser in elementary school band
he overshot a low note on the first
refrain of “76 Trombones” and lost
his slide. It slipped from his hands, clattered and bounced
down underneath the clarinets and oboes,
past the bassoons and flutes to the strings, where at last
it came to rest at the foot of the first violinist.
Slithering down in hot pursuit on his elbows,
he found himself in an underworld of soles
all beating out the time in a knee-deep darkness.
Retrieving his slide, he turned back at Janet Cole’s
pumps, but couldn’t resist looking up her dress
into that darker darkness—his only swerving. In that pause
he lost his head, and eternity roared—like applause.

“Young Orpheus” originally appeared in White Pelican Review, Vol. 5, issue 1.

Visit Paul Hostovsky’s Web site at