The player and the piano

He finishes the Mozart Sonata in G,
and, for a crowd-pleaser,
lies on his back on the bench,
hands over his head,
to finger Old Macdonald upside down.

He removes her bustier so everyone can see
the old girl,
Chicago 1915 upright grand,
and she flexes just a little —
lets them admire her ribs and strings.

Someone wins the door prize
for knowing Schubert died young of syphilis,
then there’s a medley of audience favorites —
from Moon River to Yankee Doodle
and Send in the Clowns.

She breathes in the sweet scent
of old pew cushions, peonies,
and air full of the memory of candles.

“Flight of the Bumblebee” is the encore
and HE gets the ovation – what’s that about?

She’s played a hundred brides down the aisle
and made them beautiful.
Her funeral Bach and Amazing Grace
have washed the tears from breaking hearts.
She never complains of boring hymns,
repetitive praise songs,
takes no offense
at Wednesday choir jokes,
the sticky hands of toddlers,
or the assessing tickle of a tuner
young enough to be her …

He strokes her, makes her decent, locks the door.
She creaks a little, just happy for the music,
his touch, this small church
where every night
her keys are played by the wind.

The piano

The player is Will Ogmundson, the beautiful piano gives her gift every Sunday at Madbury United Church of Christ. I am trying to … notice.

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6 Responses to The player and the piano

  1. Cheryl says:

    Lovely. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty of those keys and the love that went into the making of it as well as the playing.

  2. David Yoder says:

    That was beautiful

  3. R. Matthew Stevens says:

    Recently I had one of those annoying conversations/debates with someone who has been thoroughly alienated from church and organized religion per-say. I certainly understand how our failure to meet the changing needs and aspirations of his generation has brought him to the opinion and attitude he now freely shares with anyone who’ll listen, but the cynicism was just so omnipresent in his every statement. At one point he asked: “so, what of really value to the community would be lost if the church was closed?” As the son of a volunteer church organist I was quick to include developing a love for music in my list of benefits, but I wish I had had your “The Player and the Piano” poem to offer at that point. You evoke some marvellous images and personal remembrances Maren, and thank you so much.

  4. Titia Bozuwa says:

    You did it again, Maren. So simple and so evocative!

  5. Mother could play anything on her baby grand: country, jazz, gospel ,Broadway,classical, . . . My siblings and I would often awake to her practicing classical music. Because she loved it all, we grew up enjoying and appreciating piano music and her incredible Soprano voice. Thank you for reminding me that pianos can truly sing when the player becomes one with the instrument. The last tunes she played were the hymns of her church. I can hear them still.

  6. Maren says:

    Thank you all. Toni, I am so touched by the story of your mother and Matthew, the love of music is, indeed, one of the gifts of the church.

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