The Piano Bench
Has been broken for years now,
Its hind right leg splintering, held
Together by threads of wood pulp
So every time I sit, it rips, bit
By bit, cracking under my weight,
As if it cannot handle the heaviness of neglect
(Each yellowing key and dusty music sheet)
And still I’m the one who can’t stand
To look at that damn broken leg,
Like a cripple’s limp,
Placed in front of the cheap piano
My father gave me,
Begging me to sit and play.
When I was younger, I imagined that my ribcage
Was a xylophone, each fiberglass bar of my
Make-believe instrument ringing with perfect pitch.
In the middle of the night—when my eyes could
Only make out grainy black static—I pretended to play music
With imaginary felt-tipped mallets.
In my adolescence,
The darkness in my bedroom became sharp and frigid,
My mallets harder to find, the music less melodic.
The xylophone bars I had once drummed
Into the sweetest melodies on my six year old bones
Became the soundlessness of flesh against bone.
And when I got up from bed one morning,
I realized that my ribcage was a lead-heavy carcass
Hanging like a skeleton from my phony grin.
Through the Pane
In the front yard of my childhood home
A Japanese maple tree—
Stood next to my bedroom window.
Sometimes, the tree would tap
Ever so gently against my windowpane,
The tips of its branches scratching the glass
Like a figure skater carving designs into ice.
I loved that tree—the rich plum leaves that
Flicked quietly in the wind, the roots
That curled through hardened soil,
The way its branches reached for the sunlight.
My father used to tease me,
Telling me that, during the stormiest of nights,
My maple tree would come right through my window,
Shattering glass and destroying my room.
But one night of violet-white lightening,
I watched my tree thrash back and forth
And knew that if one of its branches
Pierced my window, I’d crawl onto it
And climb into the blinding light
Of a sky tattooed with lightning.