Poem of perspective

On the the fourth day of Ethical ELA’s Open Write, Ann Burg invites poets to “Think of a moment in time— an historical moment or a personal one. Place yourself outside yourself — as a favorite tree, a flower, even an inanimate object who has witnessed this moment…”

The Upright Mahogany Howard
(c. 1920s)

I grow old
I sigh
I know you hear
my bones creaking
as you walk by
I have no mirror
but your eyes
and there I see
my beauty
is not faded
I’m scarred
and snaggle-toothed…
you may not realize
my proclivity
for touch-memory
but I tell you
that baby on your lap
presently pounding
my ivories 
has the feel of her
—one day,
she will play
and I will respond
living on and on
in the song
for the chords
never broken
vibrate once more
stirring the dust
of five generations
in my bones…
I am
your reliquary.

The piano was my grandmother’s most-prized possession. My grandfather bought it secondhand sometime during WWII. My grandmother intended to bequeath it to my aunt, who also played; my aunt contracted MS in her 50s and died before my grandmother. Grandma then offered it to me. I do not play, but my youngest son is an extraordinary pianist with a degree in worship music. His brother’s baby, my granddaughter Micah, ten months old, is already showing an affinity for music. She sat on my lap ‘playing’ Grandma’s piano last week, thoroughly enchanted.

2 thoughts on “Poem of perspective

  1. Fran, I love the voice of your grandmother in this poem! I love the idea of your grandmother “living on and on
    in the song
    for the chords
    never broken
    vibrate once more
    stirring the dust
    of five generations
    in my bones…” because Micha’s Playing excites her so much. Such a beautiful tribute to your beautiful grandmother and Micha. You moved me in this heartfelt poem. Thank you for sharing your inspiration, joy, and photos!


  2. Thank you for your gracious words, Gail. From Grandma to Micah are the five generations whose dust may literally lie inside this old piano! It does creak sometimes when we walk by. It has a broken key now, likely from age and my youngest son’s lively playing. A day doesn’t pass without my wishing Grandma could hear him playing – my hope is that Micah will also play. She adores music. She was fascinated the other day, sitting on my lap and pounding on the keys with her baby hands. The poem is from the piano’s perspective – stay tuned (lol) for what it may have to say in the future.


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