Oddments

In search of story


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Disconnections: May 26.18

Some years back, my little granddaughter was poking through my wallet and came across a small photograph of a boy. “Who’s this,” she asked, “and what’s he doing in your wallet?” I explained that he was a student I’d taught back in the long-ago 60s, and that I had resolved to keep it to remind me of the good things about teaching.

The other night I sat in the audience as that same granddaughter performed on the cello in the 8th-grade orchestra concert. In their pink and green hair and trendy jean knee-holes, with arms and legs that seemed to sprout longer even as we watched, they somehow stilled their cosmic exuberance with all eyes on their teacher. They made music and therefore life. They were wonderful. And hilarious.

Yesterday I came to the computer to check the weather before I headed out for Friday errands. And there it was: another school shooting. Noblesville West Middle School. About 40 miles north of me. Again and yet again. All the shootings have hit home, but this was more sinister. I think of the 7th-grade boy in my wallet, who stands for all the students I have known. I think of the eighth-grade orchestra. And I think of the guns and the blood. I cannot unthink it.

 


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Connections: May 8.18

I don’t know how to play it

wouldn’t know where to begin

and yet it beams out a gravity

much like a rolling pin

or terracotta flowerpot

pruners, or a hoe

piano or organ keyboard,

a scraper for bread dough,

a pad of lined blank paper

a pen, an artist brush

they make my fingers eager

they give me a head rush

with primal primitive instinct

my fingers stretch, reach out

but it’s really my very self

the pull is all about.

Certain things there are

that, silent, speak to me

make my fingers restless

to do, to make, to be.

 

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

Connections

 

 


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Connections: March 25.18

Face to the wind

I look ahead

goodbye to the old

now the new instead.

It’s a digital thing

unlike my old grand

a sign of the time

like the gnarl of my hand.

But I admit I’m befuddled

in this alien realm:

am I at a piano

or the Enterprise helm?

 

 

Connections


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Connections: March 19.18

MY (VERY) TRIED AND TRUE FRIEND KIMBALL

Yesterday I said goodbye

in private chilly wake

empty chairs attending

my lonely little ache.

For over fifty years

in rages and in joys

my ten, its eighty-eight

conspired to make noise.

Responsive, empathetic

not like other things

it lifted up my spirit

and gave my fingers wings.

You cannot understand

unless you’ve parted too

with a beautiful piano

that grew old along with you.

 

Connections


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Connections: March 8.18

I met Yum-Yum when I was a kid, banging out beloved Gilbert & Sullivan songs from an old piano book on our old upright. I accompanied myself, performing for a select audience (me). All the names in “The Mikado” were hilarious to me, as were many of the lyrics, but the lyrics to “The Moon and I” — or “The Sun and I,” if you prefer — were a stumbling block: I didn’t quite get the point. What IS she singing about?

“We really know our worth, the sun and I…We are not shy, the moon and I.”

Little did I know, back in the mid-50s when I stretched my tinny little voice over the notes, that I would take those lyrics with me the rest of my life.

I think of them now, as I marvel at the luminous white overhead. Without “a trace upon her face of diffidence or shyness,” the moon does not apologize for her beauty or her powers. Yum-Yum’s understanding of this unapologetic acceptance of, if not exultation in, one’s own gifts was mysterious to me then. Wasn’t she guilty of boast?

But I get it now. I see the moon, and I hear Yum-Yum with older ears. She’s right: there is an expectation that some oughtn’t be too talented, and they should apologize for their talents. They should be diffident and know their “place,” pretending to be less than they are. Her refusal to capitulate to such expectation comes back to me with every beautiful moonlit sky in my life, and it never fails to make me listen to her.

 

I know, dear reader, that this is International Women’s Day, but this post is coincidental to that. In my perception, Yum-Yum sings of something wasteful, yes, shamefully, but not exclusively, wasteful to women.

Connections

 


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Connections: February 8.18

Memo to brain:

heed this sign

a walk becomes plod

hunched and bovine.

It behooves you to skip

stop dragging your feet

tap mental toes

to some irregular beat.

Indulge in some jigs

whirlies and prances

a writer fares ill

if her brain never dances.

(And maybe that is true for all of us.)

 

Thanks yet again to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

Connections

 


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Connections: October 8.17

“It’s where you put your eyes”

so went the lesson lyrical

teaching point of view

based on the empirical.

The children’s song holds true

as we try to be reflective

about our portioned turmoil

and strive for sane perspective.

 

 

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

Connections