Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network



Poetry Feature: “Frau Bach (Anna Magdalena Bach)” by AnaKarinn Tracy

Stock from Vecteezy

Frau Bach (Anna Magdalena Bach)

First night. Sweet Christy, meek and misty,
Johann’s eyes, our premier prize. The doctor tries.
Her little body, prodded, poked
In search of hope, is still and sullen, lily-white.
He turns, Herr Doctor. Folds. My daughter –
Dearest firstborn, figure faint, a silver flute
Which final breath, one dulcet note, sings through.
Fine. Rest. The silence caught her.


Ernest next. One year from the minor eve
That taught Johann and I to grieve,
My fifth child, wee and wild, cried
And cooed, debuted, rounded out our tuneful troupe,
Chirped his parted sister’s part in our sextet,
Warbled healing harmony, made lullaby duet,
A tweedling tonic.


How ironic, then, his subito departure.
No sooner had I sung at his baptism with the choir
One of Johann’s pieces – lilting, lifting toward the spire
Of the grand old church, hymn swelling, soothing,
Swaddling. Pearly cheeks blessed, faith founded, expressed
Thanks given, sounded, from organ and chest,
My babe’s fated place in heaven secured,


Than he lept up off our mended staff,
My Ernest child – stole away his budding laugh,
Tore, dismantled major chord
Of ours, left dissonance; family of five
Remaining, vibrating, humming and wailing,
Thrumming, drumming the song of the dead:
A sorry, slivered quintet.


But not for long – I swiftly swelled
Again; again I stretched, I retched,
Ballooned, big belly: drum
To house a sweet new beat, small feet,
Calfskin taught over tympany, tight
Familiar pain, drain, groaned refrain
Til number six: ripe Regina burst out and became.


I held her, latched upon my breast
The next time, inverse leitmotif,
Morbid match for birth –
When Gottfried toddled to me, age 4, eldest,
Tugged my frock, his round face furrowed, fretted
Set me up for a shock: a scream
From the next room where my two boys had played.
Christian, 3, was now suddenly splayed
On the rug. That morn I mere thought it a rash
That he sang of, scant thing on his hand.
But I there watched him thrash, fever dream,
Gleam of sweat on his brow. Poco a poco
Crescendo of animal noise, shouldn’t lie on boys’
Lips. He slips away mid-measure; his last breaths staccato;
Cut short.


Becomes my instinct.
With each new morning sickness,
Each new belly bulge, I dare not indulge
In pictures of pigment, cheeks pinked
By sun, silly songs, sprightly sport –
In imaginings of hands – chubby, slender, strong –
Of legs – stubby, stumbling; stable and long –
In visions of walking this new thing to school,
Of teaching it tempo, time, rhythm, rule
Of thirds. Words like growing, moving, marriage,
Midlife, prolonged presence: laughing lessons,
Taunting, haunting, unfamiliar
Promises that can’t be kept. New chant, descant, sung to my stomach: Be swept
Away; I pray for preclusion of pain, for mercy, miscarriage.


But I shirk not from the sheet, stick to the staff.
Still young, yet old, I strain to read fine print, I squint –
Da capo, it says. Back to the beginning.
And so I restart. Play my part. I deflate once again
Just to swell; from my tired, bent bell I issue half –
Notes over and over, none whole,
Less steady, too weary to carry the note,
Spent sonance breaks, quakes,
Flagging, sagging, far from full.
Each new child I lose: a bang, bruise
Their small fists malaise mallets, ghostly –
Returning to beat me in effort to complete me
Replacing tender touch, warmth on my battered
Body which they gave in life; quick ended, shattered –
Christiana Benedicta, Christiana Dorothea, Johann August –
Two years, one year, one day.
My voice is my gift but I still have no say.


I am not the conductor.
Give me your pen, Johann.
Hand me the master’s baton,
And I’ll remake your blemished cantata,
Compose us a fugue, a concerto that’s not a
Lament, elegy, not colored by loss. Gloss,
Glissando note to note, no stops, no chops
Between measures, eternal overture,
Forte, strong and sure, leggiero, pure.
The world does not know your music like I do;
They praise, raise, beg: piu, more,
Bravo, encore. Standing ovation.
But they stave off salvation.
They do not see Christy
In your work – in meek, misty
Melodies; they don’t see you’ve tucked her
Into melancholy grace notes,
Into each mournful movement;
They don’t catch her casket, too small
In the ground in each rallentando.
They don’t hear diminuendo
hush, interrupt her
As the organist brings the piece to a close.
They do not see sacrifices
In each of your genius devices,
Each stop: little life


Biography: I’m a biochemistry major who loves to write things other than lab reports. Cooking, writing, and exploring outdoors are my creative/recreational outlets. I think poetry is cool.

Artist Statement: I write mostly to document the maze that is my mind: there’s no better way to capture what goes on in my head than through poetry because like poetry, my brain doesn’t follow typical rules. That makes it more complicated to navigate the world sometimes, but it also gives me an interesting perspective. That’s what I hope to share through my art.

Was this article helpful?
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brynne Boehlecke
Brynne Boehlecke, Volunteer
Brynne Boehlecke (she/they) is a second-year creative writing major with an Indigenous studies minor. She is the vice president of the Student Literary Club and a member of the Native American Students Association and the Creative Writing Society at OSU. They enjoy writing and reading poetry and fantasy, calligraphy, talking to her dogs, and naming their plants after Shakespeare characters. She’s from Las Vegas and they plan to be a poet and novelist.

Comments (0)

All Prism Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *