Monday, April 10, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Ten: Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.


When Nana Balch died, the grand piano made its way from Texas to Pam. In all the years I knew her, I never once saw her play it, but I know it held great comfort and many memories for her.

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons 
by Diane Wakoski

The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
as if you were walking on the beach
and found a diamond
as big as a shoe;

as if
you had just built a wooden table
and the smell of sawdust was in the air,
your hands dry and woody;

as if
you had eluded
the man in the dark hat who had been following you
all week;

the relief
of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
playing the chords of
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to,
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair
         walked into carpeted houses
         and left me alone
         with bare floors and a few books

Read the poem in its entirety.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Pianos, unlike people, sing when you give them your every growl. They know how to dive into the pit of your stomach and harmonize with your roars when you’ve split yourself open. And when they see you, guts shining, brain pulsing, heart right there exposed in a rhythm that beats need need, need need, need need, pianos do not run. And so she plays. – Francesca Lia Block
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.


  1. That poem really packs an emotional punch! It's like an entire movie in a poem (and makes me love her mom).

  2. I think the absolute worst thing about us having to sell our townhouse when we were abroad was that my sister was meant to keep my piano - and didn't. I was heartbroken, but knowing that she was doing the best she could at the time, I just let it go -it was a piano, it wasn't an inheritance or anything - it's not like I can play very well... but the poet here would understand.