I feel her. Disciplined and precise.
Hands that glide effortlessly across
ivory, up to ebony, and back again.
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,
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.