Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Happy Mother's Day!



Welcome to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post! It's that day of the week bloggers from all over the internet get together virtually in a large gathering place called The Sunday Salon and talk books!  And at The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news!

Happy Mother's Day to all the women in my life! Some of you are Mother's, some of you should have been Mother's. You are wives, aunties, cousins, and sisters. But, you are all my friends, whether we virtually chat or chat in real life and I appreciate you all! Enjoy the day! And even though National Poetry Month is over, we can still share a poem or two, right?! Here is a poem I think is perfect for Mother's Day, whether your mother gave you "piano lessons" or gave you other lessons to teach you how to navigate... life.

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons
by Diane Wakoski

The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard, 
as if you were walking on the beach 
and found a diamond 
as big as a shoe; 

as if 
you had just built a wooden table 
and the smell of sawdust was in the air, 
your hands dry and woody; 

as if 
you had eluded 
the man in the dark hat who had been following you 
all week; 

the relief 
of putting your fingers on the keyboard, 
playing the chords of 
Beethoven, 
Bach, 
Chopin 
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to, 
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters 
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair 
         walked into carpeted houses 
         and left me alone 
         with bare floors and a few books 

I want to thank my mother 
for working every day 
in a drab office 
in garages and water companies 
cutting the cream out of her coffee at 40 
to lose weight, her heavy body 
writing its delicate bookkeeper’s ledgers 
alone, with no man to look at her face, 
her body, her prematurely white hair 
in love 
         I want to thank 
my mother for working and always paying for 
my piano lessons 
before she paid the Bank of America loan 
or bought the groceries 
or had our old rattling Ford repaired. 

I was a quiet child, 
afraid of walking into a store alone, 
afraid of the water, 
the sun, 
the dirty weeds in back yards, 
afraid of my mother’s bad breath, 
and afraid of my father’s occasional visits home, 
knowing he would leave again; 
afraid of not having any money, 
afraid of my clumsy body, 
that I knew 
         no one would ever love 

But I played my way 
on the old upright piano 
obtained for $10, 
played my way through fear, 
through ugliness, 
through growing up in a world of dime-store purchases, 
and a desire to love 
a loveless world. 

I played my way through an ugly face 
and lonely afternoons, days, evenings, nights, 
mornings even, empty 
as a rusty coffee can, 
played my way through the rustles of spring 
and wanted everything around me to shimmer like the narrow tide 
on a flat beach at sunset in Southern California, 
I played my way through 
an empty father’s hat in my mother’s closet 
and a bed she slept on only one side of, 
never wrinkling an inch of 
the other side, 
waiting, 
waiting, 

I played my way through honors in school, 
the only place I could 
talk 
       the classroom, 
       or at my piano lessons, Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary always 
       singing the most for my talents, 
       as if I had thrown some part of my body away upon entering 
       her house 
       and was now searching every ivory case 
       of the keyboard, slipping my fingers over black 
       ridges and around smooth rocks, 
       wondering where I had lost my bloody organs, 
       or my mouth which sometimes opened 
       like a California poppy, 
       wide and with contrasts 
       beautiful in sweeping fields, 
       entirely closed morning and night, 

I played my way from age to age, 
but they all seemed ageless 
or perhaps always 
old and lonely, 
wanting only one thing, surrounded by the dusty bitter-smelling 
leaves of orange trees, 
wanting only to be touched by a man who loved me, 
who would be there every night 
to put his large strong hand over my shoulder, 
whose hips I would wake up against in the morning, 
whose mustaches might brush a face asleep, 
dreaming of pianos that made the sound of Mozart 
and Schubert without demanding 
that life suck everything 
out of you each day, 
without demanding the emptiness 
of a timid little life. 

I want to thank my mother 
for letting me wake her up sometimes at 6 in the morning 
when I practiced my lessons 
and for making sure I had a piano 
to lay my school books down on, every afternoon. 
I haven’t touched the piano in 10 years, 
perhaps in fear that what little love I’ve been able to 
pick, like lint, out of the corners of pockets, 
will get lost, 
slide away, 
into the terribly empty cavern of me 
if I ever open it all the way up again. 
Love is a man 
with a mustache 
gently holding me every night, 
always being there when I need to touch him; 
he could not know the painfully loud 
music from the past that 
his loving stops from pounding, banging, 
battering through my brain, 
which does its best to destroy the precarious gray matter when I 
am alone; 
he does not hear Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary singing for me, 
liking the sound of my lesson this week, 
telling me, 
confirming what my teacher says, 
that I have a gift for the piano 
few of her other pupils had. 
When I touch the man 
I love, 
I want to thank my mother for giving me 
piano lessons 
all those years, 
keeping the memory of Beethoven, 
a deaf tortured man, 
in mind; 
            of the beauty that can come 
from even an ugly 
past.

Diane Wakoski, “Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons” from Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987.

1 comment:

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Wonderful poem! Thanks for sharing...and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

Have a great week!

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