Verandah Porche’s Poem for Her Mother


                       Play along! Don’t Contradict!
                       The facilitator had magic markered,
                       Hard yet bearable.

Arpeggios as surf: my mother’s
Beaked hands pick back toward Chopin.
White keys froth against ebony pebbles.
Her baby grand’s the shape of a rock
You don’t often see.  A glacier sheers off
A massive slab. Salt cuts it down to size.
My mother has a small bleed. One night
She freezes, thaws and nobody knows what
Synapses no longer fire. Once the water’s
Frilled lace at Rockaway skirted her ankles
Like Mozart. At 10 she could fill her hands
With sounds. Be private even when the shore
Teemed with good daughters like her
On trolley holidays. My mother practiced
Passages on sand. Her fingers made do
With a cardboard key chart on the kitchen
Table before they purchased week by week
A piano. Eighty summers from that sea
She leaves the brick home rarely willingly;
The glare hurts her laser-ed cataracts.
Let Venetian blinds divide the light in staves.
Baubles on the chandelier fill spaces in with
Half and whole notes scored across the walls.
She asks: When did your friend come to
Tune my piano? Were we over at Foodtown?
He did a lovely job. When I play now listen.

My mother places the beige receiver sideways
On the table’s plastic lace. I listen to the ghost
Twangs of unvoiced strings. Chopin tosses
The piano overboard. My mother floats away
On its polished lid. Five states from her capsized
Living room I catch my breath and dive. How far
She swims my coaxing arms can’t fathom.
We play along shirring the foam. Only the chaos
My mother’s joy provokes comes home.