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THE GREEN PIANO Aeolian. Gratis. Great thunderer, half-ton infant of miracles Torn free of charge from the universe by my mother's will. You must have amazed that half-respectable street Of triple-decker families and rooming-house housepainters The day that the bole-ankled oversized hams of your legs Bobbed in procession up the crazy-paved front walk Embraced by the arms of Mr. Poppik the seltzer man And Corydon his black-skinned helper, tendering your thighs Thick as a man up our steps. We are not reptiles: Even the male body bears nipples, as if to remind us We are designed for dependence and nutriment, past Into future. O Europe, they budged your case, its ponderous Guts of iron and brass, ten kinds of hardwood and felt Up those heel-pocked risers and treads splintering tinder. Angelic nurse of clamor, yearner, tinkler, dominator -- O Elephant, you were for me! When the tuner Mr. Otto Van Brunt Pronounced you excellent despite the cracked sounding board, we Obeyed him and swabbed your ivories with hydrogen peroxide. You blocked a doorway and filled most of the living room. The sofa and chairs dwindled to a ram and ewes, cowering: now, The colored neighbors could be positive we were crazy and rich, As we thought the people were who gave you away for the moving Out of their carriage house -- they had painted you the color of pea soup. The drunk man my mother hired never finished antiquing you Ivory and umber, so you stood half done, a throbbing mistreated noble, Genuine -- my mother's swollen livestock of love, lost one, unmastered: You were the beast she led to the shrine of my genius, mistaken. Endlessly I bonged according to my own chord system "Humoresque," "The Talk of the Town," "What'd I Say." Then one day they painted you pink. Pink is how my sister remembers you the Saturday afternoon When our mother fell on her head, dusty pink as I turn on the bench In my sister's memory to see our mother carried moaning up the last Steps and into the living room, inaugurating the reign of our confusion. They sued the builder of the house she fell in, with the settlement They bought a house at last and one day when I came home from college You were gone, mahogany breast, who nursed me through those Years of the Concussion, and there was a crappy little Baldwin Acrosonic In your place, gleaming, walnut shell. You sere gone, despoiled one -- Pink one, forever green one, white-and-gold one, comforter, living soul.
Boston 1999 Index