Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Marla's Right Hand

Marla’s Right Hand
Inspired by Berenice Abbott’s Untitled

            marla once told me
            her hands would remain on the keys                             
            when she died
            but i can’t find them anywhere
            and the piano went silent
            now a phantom
            quiet in a corner
            the bench warmed by her every day
            now lonely and cold

            when i was little and scared
and couldn’t sleep
            i would sneak down wooden stairs
            slowly, in socks, no creaking
            and sit on the bottom step
            ear pressed against the wall
            listening to her on the other side
playing debussy in the dark
            i would fall asleep, safe and warm
            in auricular aesthesia

            she couldn’t sleep either, could she?

            now insomnia haunts
            and aches
            no one to play it away
            marla had black and white keys
yellowed, dog-eared pages of sheet music
drowning out sharp pain, angst
hidden inside
fevers, night sweats
screaming joints, bones
blackblue bleeding bruises
            swollen spleen and lymph nodes

            she couldn’t eat
            or sleep
or hope
she played chopin, liszt
philip glass, shostakovich

            polishing the maple
            brahms, ravel
            with lemon essence oil
that made her heart leap up
but didn’t save her
xrays and radiation failed too

having to go to school without her
walking by with heavy bookbag
heavy heart
            i imagine her sitting there
            gracefully somehow turning pages
with just friction
between paper and fingers of left hand
while the right hand played alone
            i imagine what she promised was true

and walking by the field of gravestones
            i imagine that hers isn't there

because the loneliness of her being gone
is rachmaninoff

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