Briefly Opening the Piano – by David P. Miller

I use one shy brass knob to raise the lid:
a vacant screw hole marks the other.
I spread one hand across the keyboard
to probe wary octaves, moving crabwise.
The spinet, my Acrosonic, is somehow in tune.
Its voice remote from concert-ready, yes,
but the strings are sound.

                                             How is that?
I treat this, my late mother’s instrument,
like a handy set of waist-high shelves.
I could play it. What I do is put things on it.
It should speak ill, furious or depressed,
being so disrespected. If its patience
snapped at last, I’d be the only culprit.
I don’t remember where the other knob went.

Bartok, Satie, Haydn, Schumann: my old books
stacked right behind the music stand.
I may have lost faith in my hands. Their reflexes
are sapped from fingering QWERTY keyboards.
But what sort of snivel would that be
if I were speaking to my mother? Some swear
she watches, waits for me to return my hands
to the wedding gift my grandparents gave her.
I could leave its lid open. But then imagine
the dust, thickening the cracks between the keys.

David MillerDavid P. Miller’s collection, Bend in the Stair, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books in 2021. Sprawled Asleep was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2019. Poems have recently appeared in Meat for Tea, Hawaii Pacific Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Clementine Unbound, Constellations, J Journal, The Lily Poetry Review, Ibbetson Street, Redheaded Stepchild, The Blue Pages, and What Rough Beast, among others. His poem “Add One Father to Earth” was awarded an Honorable Mention by Robert Pinsky for the New England Poetry Club’s 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize competition.