Piano Keys (a poem)

The movers came on Tuesday, they covered the piano in a red velvet cloth before loading it into the truck; I waited with baited breath least they slipped and scratched the wood or broke one of the legs. They did not; they moved with slow precision the way you would complete a math problem. We drove five miles to the other side of town where the movers carried the piano up three flights of stairs, their boots wrapped in plastic so they didn’t track mud into the new apartment.

I had them place it in front of the great window, looking out over vibrant green grass, wide oak trees, and tiny hole-in-the-wall coffee shops; I thought perhaps the view would inspire music. I remember when we bought the piano; we walked into a second hand shop, looking for a coffee table for our place. I saw it sitting sad in the corner and told you that we had to buy it because it was such a shame to leave perfectly good music in this graveyard of lost furniture. You agreed.

When we got it home that night, we made love atop its tarnished wood and tuned keys, creating our own song in the stillness of that apartment, lost in a world purely ours. We used to sit for hours, cups of coffee and pages of music scattered across its top, laughing at the notes we played and pretending we were great musicians. When you left, you called me from the only phone booth in your new town, you said the distance didn’t matter as long as we still had our music.

You sent me pages of melodies you had written and told me to play and to pretend you were next to me, stroking the piano keys alongside my small hands. I remember those long cold months of winter, my heart shrank in my chest with the cold dark hours that passed like molasses. I left the piano untouched because I couldn’t bare the thought of making music on it without you. I left the music stacked neatly and cleaned all of the coffee cup stains, I bleached the memories from my mind with rubber gloves and an old rag.

It was nearly March before I played again. The sun and laughter from a warm day thawing my heart just long enough to slide my hands over the keys. I moved to a new apartment because I was tired of seeing your smile in my mind in every corner of what used to be our place. I moved because I hated imagining you walking around the bedroom dressing for work, one sock on, the other on the bed. I couldn’t leave this stupid piano. I couldn’t stand the thought of sending it back to that furniture graveyard for some happy couple to buy and bring home.

So here it is, sitting near the window, a skeleton of the remains of a love once bold and true. I know when I hear your voice on the other end of the line, so far across the world in a place I will never know, it will strike a chord in my heart, and bring me back to those long days of piano keys, when we tasted of a music that would never die.

By Riah Raine

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