I came across a Rhapsody last night.
Sight reading, my slow fingers
Remembered — these keys were first yours.
This piano presented by Dad one Mother’s
Day — you swept onto the bench
and played Deep Purple — knew it by heart.
I heard so much about what he didn’t give you.
This little spinet became my practice piano,
one we moved across several states with
Dad’s rising ambition, raises in pay.
When you died, it took one last trip, longer
than the rest, from Kentucky to California.
The mover said it slid a bit going over Sierra snow.
But the blond Baldwin needed merely a tuning.
Its white keys don’t sit quite straight, some
slightly raised, and four are chipped, where
Juliet banged before she started lessons.
Honest, I didn’t see her do this — you’d have
spanked her — some say these flaws lend
character to the ivory. The granddaughter you
never knew plays the Rhapsodies today,
much the way you played, breathing in
the crescendos, tenderness tucked
into those unexpected open intervals
of the right hand.