Oddments

In search of story


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Vagaries: October 11.16

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERABête noire

best friend

therapist

curse and godsend.

 This clumsy chunk of wood and wire

monument to stubbornness

taught me to be

Queen of Stubborn

immovably

patient and impatient.

I had an itch

way deep

that made me touch the keys.

I had to play.

I cannot remember life without a piano

this love-hate relationship that coddled my inwardness

yet insisted the music go outward

so how can I think of life without it ?

No inanimate object, this,

but a being with breath

spirit

a forgiving affection for me.

Is it disappointed?

I was never great

but I was good.

More, I entered in to a human thing

the thing with music

where

maybe

we all itch.

Is it

finally

gone?

Is it time to send this

wooden person

to the heap of my past

with dolls

and love letters?

Vagaries

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Connections: March 19

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMiddle C

used to be

the first

forever imbedded

eared, eyed, and headed

for better or for worst.

The alpha note

small-finger-smote

awaking addiction

family friction

in eventual Czernian bloat.

Oh, the hours misspent

a perpetual Lent

da capo ad nauseam

no break or pauseam

my youth distorted and bent.

Why wasn’t I Rubenstein?

Why only me?

What sadistic muse

designed this ruse

this siren-song’d middle C?

Connections


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Old friends

Ann and I go way back.

We met in kindergarten. That was 1948. We went on to grade school together. Same high school, same college, same sorority. We rode our bikes in the summers, grade school through college, long after our peers took to cars. We banged out duets on each other’s pianos. My mother tripped over her at our house and her mother tripped over me at their house. Sometimes it was a toss-up as to which house was whose.

We never ran out of talk. That is still true: we email all the time, and with telepathic understanding. When she writes “dum-dee-dum-dum,” I hear the Dragnet theme. “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” needs no exegesis, Officer Krupke no footnote, tarantulas in bananas no clarification. When I write “Back to you, Chet,” she calls me David. If I mention frocks and chums, she will write of Ned Nickerson, and, when she grouses about how people don’t know nominative case from old underwear, I commiserate and we both blame Sister Mary Clare, our sixth-grade teacher, whose obsession with nominative case makes us both crazed today when we hear “between you and I.”

In college, people exclaimed at how much we looked alike. Nope. We never looked anything alike, which was my loss, but we’d rubbed off on each other. We didn’t look alike; we WERE alike.

We are grandmas now and will be 72 soon. We met when we were five. So that means we’ve been friends for…ummm…did I mention she tutored me through math?

Recently she emailed that it seemed like yesterday when she went apoplectic laughing at my high school freshman picture. How sweetly sentimental she can be.

From Nancy Drew to the Internet. Girls to grandmas. Old friends.


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Duly Noted

He warned me. The piano tuner made it clear that the age of the strings and the length of time since the last tuning boded ill. As with all things, age and neglect are not the best of all possible combinations. But still when the sproyoyoying came, it hurt. An F# was felled, broken and limp among its taut brethren in the chest of the baby grand.

I regarded it sadly and was reminded of a Middle C I once knew. I was in high school, trying to eke Beethoven out of my mother’s old upright Kimball, the stalwart that had seen two generations through piano lessons. More and more it balked. I wanted music but it gave me mere sound. I was working at the Sonata Pathetique, getting nowhere. The first lines always seemed to me to be about something ominous and something weary; there was a controlled threat and a controlled grief in those lines but I could never capture them with my fingers. And then there was no more control and the music tore loose — or was supposed to, I thought. The wild ride in the next section hinged on the most important Middle C I’d ever met. My right hand begged the piano for that while my left hand negotiated with two lower Cs. Three octaves of Cs and me. There was nothing else in the cosmos.

The lower Cs rumbled with some conviction but Middle C gave me nothing. I tried it again. And again. Beethoven was NOT in there. Once more with more force, no, with outright anger. And there it was: lying before me, on the ledge just behind the music, the hammer for Middle C. It had given its all. I felt like a murderer. I sat there, guilt- and angst-ridden, staring at it, with its deeply lined head and long broken leg; Middle C was no more. With it had gone all hope of coaxing (or beating) Beethoven out of that old piano.

Did I learn that anger doesn’t make music? Not at all. I did learn that pianos can get even.