“The Boy Who Plays” — a poem by Gannon Daniels

March 19th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BOY WHO PLAYS

At the piano
his two hands pump fingers
wide in unison
one hand does one thing
the other another
his eyes fixed on the sheet
music sheathed in plastic
bound in a binder, flipped
over quickly with a sweep
of his right simultaneously
the left does a trill
and jumps an octave
then another to end—
(furious applause)

When he begins another song
a song he does not know yet
there is banging
the keys beneath the fists
scream at him
together five times;
a row of staccato chaos
I call it the bridge
of frustration

Which always leads to
improvisation
the jazz portion of his practice
Ignoring the pages’ directions
he addresses the new
keys, new chords
deft wrangling of what
he has come to know

I remember the big upright
piano in our basement
lessons with ex-nuns
who were finally forbidden
to wrap knuckles if you failed

Like my son I fiddled around
avoided the written notes
but unlike him, I didn’t go back
to the page, unlike him I didn’t
practice, the scale study didn’t transform me
it only bored me—

But he seems to know
that life is better when
you make the melody
and all things come together
in the crescendo

He’s singing now and plunking
out a tune
we sing in the car
His ear leans in to replicate
someone else’s creation
I eavesdrop on his effectuer
pretending we are the same
but we are not
He has an audience
He will
see this through—me
I will live
vicariously through
the boy who plays

 

_____

 

 

Gannon Daniels is an adjunct English instructor at Glendale College and La Mission College. Her poetry has been published in several journals over the years; including RATTLE, Cimarron Review, Sanskrit, and Drunk Monkeys. She hopes to publish her second book of poems in 2018. Her first book is entitled The Occupying Water.

 

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