The Piano Lesson

Somewhere outside, rain. In the cluttered practice room,

the scent of peppermint Lifesavers

hovers above the ivory-carved face

of music. His pencil tapped,

a metronome beating the souls

of Mozart and Bach, Haydn, Schubert.

Scales, he commanded.

Crescendo.

Decrescendo.

In the key of D major.

Caged notes trembled,

yearned for the flight of gulls

wheeling white, then suddenly dark,

against the sun.

To demonstrate, he gathered up

all my broken passages, wrong-turnings

and lost notes, and he played...

stars breaking from cold exile,

a leaf-detached melody floating

to the river's surface

flowing over the pebbled bottom...

he taught me to take it in,

to give it back,

all the peppermint music.

I play, and become a child again,

watching the quiet burst of bubbles,

the leaves' golden courage

rushing to sea.

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