Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Drift of Music

//a drift of music

A Drift Of Music

On a winter Wednesday
in the dark before dawn,
shoved outside by my mother,
I reluctantly set foot
onto our snow-drifted front porch,
stepped down its stairs -
steep terraces of freshly fallen snow
shaped like loaves of homemade bread.

The bogeyman lived in the
woodshed behind the house
in back of ours,
but Mother said, as she,
one eye on the clock,
buttoned my snowsuit,
“There’s no such creature.
Hurry up, you’re late.”

I clutched piano music
in an icy mittened hand as I crunched down our hill.
The cold air froze my nose. It hurt to breathe.
The day before, my best friend’s brother
had told me that the bogeyman
cut cracks in babies’ bottoms
right after they were born.
“Did he cut yours?” he’d asked,
his eyes sliding slyly towards me
as with long, skinny legs he loped past
through thickly-falling snow.

The sky eased from coal-dust black to tree-trunk gray
as I scurried through the snow.
Was the bogeyman behind me?
Did I hear somebody running?
As I trembled past each residence
snarls and barks announced me.

I rang the music teacher’s doorbell,
while icicles dripped on my hair.
With a rasping buzz her lock released.
I huddled in her creaky stairwell,
waiting to be called up metal-rimmed stairs
to her living room where two grand pianos
gleamed side by side, massive as rhinos.
Fear of the bogeyman melted away.

With large, efficient, gleaming hands,
my teacher wound a metronome,
then tapped a pencil in rhythm,
and counted “one-and-two-and...”
Her tiny son peeked through the door,
his face a full moon over his pale, thin neck.
A green-shaded oblong lamp on one piano
seemed to spin sun-beams
off my teacher’s silver-rimmed glasses.

Her love of music took root in me,
and grew in one guitar-playing offspring
and grandchildren who cock their heads
with caught attention, then sing in tune
and dance about in time with music.
As they do, I think of her and her
lessons, a weekly oasis of minuets and marches.

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