When my sister played Clair de Lune
I’d go into her room and sit on the floor
with my ear to the side of the piano
so close that the sound would fill my mind
with the image of the long, coiled strings
vibrating, glowing golden in the darkened box.
I could hear my sister’s feet dampening
and undampening the pedals, muting the
strings, then letting them ring, resonating,
one note overlaying another, could hear
the creak of her piano stool and smell the
smell of wood dust, like old sheet music,
and my ear would pulse, almost hurting
from the sound of the hammers striking steel.
And I would begin to imagine things,
different things each time:
my aunt in a blue flowered house dress
standing in her kitchen holding a jar
of homemade pickles, her thin white hair
always in tight pin curls.
Or I’d be alone, in a long, softly lit hallway,
the walls covered with wainscotting and
lavender striped wall paper yellowing
near the ceiling. At the far end of the hallway,
a solarium, and beyond that a balcony
glimmering in sunlight.
Or I’d be in a field with small, white flowers
bowing with the weeds rhythmically
and sensing that I was
loved by someone.
And it would be that my sister’s
fingers were pounding deep into
my chest, and always, always
by the end of the piece
I’d ask her to play it one more time.