Shiny Objects

To the left of my piano hangs a painting of a Chincoteague Pony. My father bought this for me just before I became a teenager, so I did not appreciate it then but I do now. It was painted by a local artist and sold for $250 at a cafe by the beach near to where I grew up. This is what I remember being told about its origins; I was young when he gave it to me, and sometimes our memory changes our truth, but I think that I have recalled this correctly.

The painting is behind glass, so when I sit at the piano I can see my face reflected in it. I often look over and watch my silhouette as I’m playing and think about how long my hair has grown or what angle my jawline is taking or if my posture is straight. I hate that I look at myself this closely, but it is how I have gotten (climbed) to where I am–such ruthless attention to detail, such heightened awareness–so I find that I simultaneously appreciate this part of myself.

This is not the first piano that allowed me to see myself. At twelve years old my parents purchased a black lacquered Yamaha that was for many years kept against the living room wall nearest to the front door. I could sit at the piano bench and look directly into its dark gloss finish and see my face reflected, like looking into a tinted mirror or opaque window.

Once I became a good pianist, I could play the keys and watch my reflection at the same time – meaning that, simultaneously, I heard what was on the inside and saw what was on the outside. If this sounds intimate this is because as a girl it was, and as a woman still is. I am today no less fascinated to experience myself in this way, to discover what is reflected in my music, in one way and sometimes two.

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Summer Sound

The new sound came
from somewhere
(I don’t know where)
unmarked, like a letter
with no sender address
just as smooth-edged
as you might picture
and was welcomed
even I say ushered in;
a melodic relief it was
fingered and opened
allowed to unroll itself.
Afterward breath felt
less grim than before,
new skin formed and
could hold more of it,
like how you might feel
if prayers were heard,
finally, after all that time
hoping on your knees.

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Silent Song

If I hope for you to understand what
kind of human is inside this creature
of the animal kingdom who is still
evolving: I advise you to undetectedly
tiptoe up as I sit in front of the piano
(jesus whatever you do, do not speak,
but listen best you can) and when I am
done leave before I become uneasy
to find I’ve shown myself so honestly.

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At the Piano

It might have me reveling in
Sunday morning and the gift of
a home among mature trees;
together we are an orchestra.

We hold this pattern, each day
returning to familiar notes much
alike, contemplating the scale of
an experience again and again.

Then, changing rhythm signals
life moving into its new phase.
Sometimes this is a yearning,
sometimes resolution. Both.

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Regarding Music

I play music and it tells me many things:
if I am only skimming surfaces and
it is time to turn in for the night, and
if I’d like you to climb into the night with me

If you listen, it might say
let’s set fire to everything
and begin again on another coast.

Certainly you have thought this before.

At the piano I let my hands
do what they will; inevitably
the music scoops up who I am,
bares a soul that rarely breathes,
unearths what I did not know was inside.
At times I am not sure who is holding who.

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