There’s a Pianist in My Hands

Nov 13, 2022

I feel her. Disciplined and precise.

Hands that glide effortlessly across

ivory, up to ebony, and back again.

And yet,


I have no such musical mastery.

Elevating notes and chords, tension and tempo –

offering an otherworldly rescue

from the crowded conversations that fill my mind.


I don’t know her name.

Like many untold stories, unfinished lives …

all of them had names

replaced by armbands and then, tattoos.


A half-million forced behind brick walls.

Her only suitcase, simple belongings, stripped;

the gold locket from her grandmother

pulled from her neck.


Bombs fell, shattering the piano,

ivory torn off and strewn,

strings broken,

wood splintered and smashed.


There was to be no more music.

Only gaunt faces, forced marches onto

crowded cattle cars without enough air.

And cold. Such bitter cold.


Yet, she hung on.

And if you could have watched her closely,

you would have seen her wrists dangle at her side,

give a gentle rise, and lower to imaginary keys.


You would have noticed the nearly imperceptible

dance of her fingers

commanding the music

in the concert hall of her mind.


She never left the camps.

Music took her.

Carried her beyond the intolerable

as it always had.


There’s a pianist in my hands.



With Each Breath
Friendship at 8000 Feet


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