Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

kailee marie pedersen


"schwanengesang"

—for Catherine

The water scalds. He lowers himself into the bath. He does not look at his reflection, pulsing
gently on the surface of the water. A man of only thirty-one, perforated by illness. His body is
covered in rashes; someone is poisoning his food, he supposes. He enjoys listening, still. The
Latin requiem his brother wrote. Ferdinand has promise, but not genius. Genius is what slides
itself into his bed, down his throat, over the lip of the porcelain tub. He will write a letter to
Schober and study more Handel, finish his sonata. Rinna must have been here; lard and mercury
have burrowed their way into his feverish wounds. He does not eat, but he still composes. The
sonata will be in B-flat major, he thinks. When he lies in bed he looks at the wall. He puts a
finger in his mouth, to make sure all of his teeth remain. His tongue is still there, at least. The
water cradles him like amniotic fluid. Perhaps he might sleep forever. He emerges from the tub
without washing himself. The room whirls. A formless apathy hangs over him like a worn coat.
He unhinges his jaw from its death mask in the expectation of speech, but says nothing. He
thinks of the way the hammer strikes the strings of the pianoforte; when he touches his head,
hairs fall out. He left the water on; it will flood the room if he does not stop it. He fumbles for the
drain. Plunging his arm elbow-deep into the water. The B-flat, yes. Rinna will be here soon.

Kailee Marie Pedersen is a recent graduate of Columbia University. She was adopted from Nanning in 1996. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, The Boiler Journal, Arcturus, and others. She is currently working on an essay collection and a novel. Her favorite Lied by Franz Schubert is "Gretchen am Spinnrade." This poem is dedicated to her friend and pianist, Catherine Le. You can find more of her work at kaileemariepedersen.com.