Piano Bones

Well, I have grandma wrinkles now.
The kind I always wanted. Those wrinkles
that are the leftovers of many past smiles,
the echoes of yesterday’s laughter,
embossing their memories into my skin. Skin that,
if you let me peel away, would curl into
the soft red folds of stage curtains.

And if you brush your fingers across my bones,
gently, lovingly, you will hear music—
a whole orchestra of sound, vibrating from my ivory ribs.

The long solemn solo of my spine.

It was a plain, sharp-edged day,
the day I met my mentor again,
after all these years.
I stumbled upon her, there
in the corner of a used piano shop.

She was sitting, all quietly,
not at all as I remembered her.

I went over to her and touched her,
shyly, almost fearfully.
And beneath my fingers she spoke again.
But it was an awkward, halting speech,
and grated against my well-trained ear.

As her song reverberated
off the other piano’s in the shop
I laughed. Not at her, but with her.

For the stickers were still there—
the fat kitten still smiling, though almost rubbed away,
the striped heart only a fuzzy shadow.
These stickers that once guided
my chubby child fingers across the keys.

I stopped playing and she returned to her silence.
I stroked her rough, scratched old surface
like I sometimes rub the bark of old trees,
watching with sorrowful joy
as pieces flake off
to feed the young sapling below.

“You fed me well,” I whisper, in case anyone is listening.
Then I turn and leave her there, and take her music with me.

Asleep in life-giving flesh,
my baby’s first dreams were of music.
My big belly pressed so gently against the piano.
Heavenly music floating through.

Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.
My girl learned to sing before she spoke,
Learned to play piano before she learned to write.
Grew, with a mother’s coaxing,
into a brand new melody.

Now, sometimes,
some wonderful times,
she brings me to her home
and wheels me to her piano.
I press my crumpled hands
against the wood and feel.
Vibrations in my bones,
these old, old piano bones.

The End

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