The Piano Lesson

She was comfortable at the piano

playing for yellow palomino manes

for rains and the wet-kiss of storm,

for doughy clouds which gather, become houses

and horses, and are dispersed again.

She kept her own time


he stood behind her

like somebody’s older brother, with one hand

pressing her shoulder

trying to get her in sync

with the tick-tick-ticking pendulum

so she sits up

straight, fingers

stumbled across keys, caught

in cracks.  She falls in after them.

He never smiles, only rakes

pointed fingers through greasy hair

and like a snake sliding

on a purple belly, extends

a flickering black tongue.

She wonders why

she must change

her beat

to his.

Can you guess what my instructions to this assignment were?

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20 thoughts on “The Piano Lesson

  1. Yes, people read poetry! This is a wonderful poem that resonates with anyone who has been made to feel they’re “doing it wrong”–with no appreciation shown by the mentor for the creativity aspect of music, art, writing…well done, Renee.

    1. Thanks Erm. I’m still trying to figure out how to integrate my poetry into my blogging life. Maybe I need to set the poems a little bit. Or something. I don’t know. But you’ve got it. And there is a bit of a feminist edge in there as well. 😉

    1. Thank you, August. I’m still trying to figure out how to integrate poetry into my blog. Do I need to set it up with a little story or just let it stand on its own. It’s confusing because I fel like when I post poems, I don’t get near the readers. Hmmm. Any thoughts?

      1. I would let it stand on it’s own. I love that poetry is so flexible and open for interpretation. It’s often just a framework – an idea, emotion, or scene that leaves a lot of holes for the reader to fill in from their own perspective. It took me a long time to appreciate that, to put a poem out there and not insist the reader see and feel exactly what I intended. But that is what’s so beautiful! You can write a poem about one thing, and I might read that poem and think it’s about something completely different! The author has all the benefit, because now you are touching people in ways you never intended, through no added effort of your own. Interpretation is a wonderful thing.

        So do you feel that you don’t get near the readers because they don’t see what you see, or because you don’t get as many comments? Some people may not like poems, but if you post one every now and then, you won’t lose readers. But many people will read and not know what to comment. It may evoke emotions that they don’t really know how to express. Sometimes I have nothing more to say than, “I like it.” I should at least say that, but I usually don’t. That doesn’t seem like enough, somehow, so I say nothing.

  2. Why indeed? I think most of us are guilty of this in one way or another. It’s so easy to fall into, to expect people will conform to our wants, needs, desires… In fact, we are born into that expectation. Every child thinks the world revolves around them.

    It’s harder to appreciate differences in rhythm or style. But what a boring world it would be if every life beat kept tempo with the same drum.

      1. Certainly. But really from many perspectives, it can feel truly ominous. On the darker side, it made me think of children held hostage by aggressive, abusive parents – mentally and emotionally pressed upon and contained, never allowed to grow. For some reason, I keep getting confinement and kind of like being in a dark box which is closing in around you. Maybe that’s what being in this situation would feel like. No light to focus on, no hope.

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