Author's Note: This poem is based on an unusually vivid childhood memory that will never leave me. The man on whom it’s based has been deceased for years, no doubt—but his melodies, if you can call them that, linger on.
He came to our apartment twice a year to tune my mother’s piano. All day long we tiptoed, trying not to interfere with what to us were strange, unearthly songs. He never struck a heavy, luscious chord— only fifths, fourths, octaves—clean and spare; brandishing his hammer like a sword, we watched him wring concordance from the air. Taut as pulled wire, he’d lean into the keys, his practiced fingers pressing note on note, hunting down aberrant harmonies and any latent quaver in the throat. At last the piano, gaping and undone, its very heart exposed for all to see, would wait in silence, chastened as a nun, for the blasphemies of Chopin and Satie.
©2020 Marilyn Taylor
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