Piano poetry

My friend from work, Patrick, called me two weekends ago to tell me he’d found a piano for me…maybe. I was in my pajamas, sitting outside on our patio, 10:00 in the morning, searching for who-knows-what on the Internet. A Saturday, bright with a glowing Sonoma County sun, cool enough to be comfortable, and I wrote down the phone number.

I called Monika, and she said I could come by later that day to take a look. After breakfast, Nat and I drove to a nearby town, I played the piano, and gave Monika $100. That’s it. That’s all it took. $100. Since then, some 10 days ago, I’ve been playing my new/old Russian piano. I don’t know the maker, the imprint is in Russian. I don’t care. I care that I can spend my nights playing from Owen’s old piano books – the ones he bought at a used bookstore in San Diego, and along with my early days as a piano student (I was terrible), I can make music.

I heard myself say the other night, “I can’t play for shit, but I’m having a good time at it.” And, I am. Something happens when I’m sitting there at the piano, this slender, solid Russian tank of keys, wires, and wood, which now resides in our bedroom. I…go…away, and music moves in. I’m okay with this. More than okay. I’m no longer a part of the equation. And, that feels right. Music has always moved in when all’s right with the world. And, yes, when all is wrong.

I can’t say that in my day-to-day world, all is right with the world. I can say that I’m getting used to having the world not feel right, getting used to having to accept the loss of Owen so close at hand…and then I play a few notes, a few chords, search for that lyrical sense of sound, and I’m not as disturbed as before I touch the keys.

Patience is a life lesson for me – I’m not good at it, so I keep listening…and now…I keep playing. I feel my entire life’s history from my position there in front of the keyboard. My dad bought me my first piano. He died before my first recital. I remember my mom on that day. She was there. She was always there. I hope she can hear me play now. She would be calculating the checks she wrote, and wondering why I didn’t take it more seriously back then. Mom, I take it seriously now. Thank goodness my brother, Emmitt, and I can talk on the phone about chord inversions, and it really means something. Your money was well spent, Mom. I hope I’m paying you back.

Writing poetry has long been a mathematical exercise for me. One I crave. I’m finding that reading music and coordinating my left and right hands to produce the sounds the paper says I should, is yet another mathematical exercise. For someone who has experienced grave math anxiety, this is not my natural interest. Or, is it? Perhaps I just didn’t know I was prone to these particular and challenging examinations of my brain’s interiors. Until now.

Daddy and Owen sit next to me on the bench. They cringe when I hit the wrong keys, as do I, and I laugh at our flinching faces. I smile when harmony rises from the depths of the black and whites, and I hope that someday, I can share my compositions with Nat.

Thank you, Patrick. Thank you, Monika. Thank you Nat, Dave, Ruby, Monika, and Sterling (her son) for helping me retrieve the piano from Monika’s living room. For now, I play like a starving child. I still can’t play for shit. But, I play for the sake of lyrical sounds that evade my arthritic hands, and hope for those moments when I recognize something…recognizable.

Song for the night: Moonlight Sonata, 3rd Movement, Beethoven, played by Mark Salman



~ by Linda on September 22, 2008.

2 Responses to “Piano poetry”

  1. “I can’t say that in my day-to-day world, all is right with the world. I can say that I’m getting used to having the world not feel right,”

    That is so provocative and truthful.

    I’m impressed also with your ability to just pick up those books and start playing again.
    Good for you for getting a piano. I always wished I could play any sort of musical instrument. I think the lack of being able to create music has left a gap in my soul.

  2. I’m so glad that you have found something to do that is creative and nurturing and brings you some measure (ha ha) of peace! It is good to lose one’s self in music. Yes. This is good.

    Sorry I have not been by in a while, my friend. Glad to see you are hanging in there.

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