January 12, 2004

poem 1

as yet untitled

Talk, would you?
Mahogany legs
thick, sculpted
and just enough
of an edge
at the base
to slice a finger or
passing toe.

At six, seven, eight
nothing seemed wrong
with breaking off
the aging ivory tops
from the keys,
a square chip here
a triangle there,
amazed at the
configurations
I could make,
each one
its own way
of reminding me
which note
to play,
make
my own song
where shape
and sound converge.

At the end
of my afternoon lessons
I'd close the top
around the keyboard
so no one could see
the damage I'd done,
how many keys
I'd deformed this day
by picking off
the pieces.

That need I had
to snap
just one more edge
of white.
High C
shouldn't have been
that hard to
find.

The imprint
of my father's fingers
etched into the
end of every key,
where they yellowed
and tapered
to a thousand points
like teeth
or the serrated edge
of a knife.

Once ignited
the compulsion was
its own fuel.
Just one more
to even things out.

The notes I never learned,
but something more:
To take what his hands
had touched,
take it for my own.
And another:
the beauty of
smooth things made rough
and then smooth again -
the beauty of a solution, a cure.

It was after all
a kind of surgery.

I kept the broken tips
in a small box
like pieces of a puzzle
that would never
resolve.

In this way
a child makes sense
of her world.

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