Looking down, my hands are young.
Little nails. Little fingers.
Skipping on the keys.
Smooth, dainty skin.
I am six.
From farther up I’m looking down at my hands upon the keys.
Bigger reach, longer nails. A little polish
Dancing on the keys.
Taut, youthful skin.
I am sixteen.
Looking down, my hands are shopworn.
They play the music that comes through me.
My fingers waltz on the keys now.
Drying, aging skin.
I am fifty.
My gaze descends to my hands resting on the keys.
As I lift and lower, music emerges,
But alas, my fingers lumber on the keys.
Misshapen knuckles; veins popping blue.
I am seventy.
I look down upon my hands.
My fingers hover and shake,
Taking dry aim at the keys.
Gnarled, twisted, useless hands
I am too old.
They wheel me over. I bend toward the piano.
I hit a few notes with tentative strokes, and
I cry out in frustration. Then I remember.
I remember and I weep for the lovely melodies
That still skip in my heart.
* * * * * *
I am pushing toward the seventies decade, and I have this lovely video of my son and me playing a duet! This is one melody that will skip in my heart for a long time.
Note: The poem appeared in the California Writers Club 100th Anniversary Anthology called West Winds Centennial, published in 2010. The California Writers Club is a 501 (c)3 organization that was founded in 1909(!) by honorary members Jack London, George Sterling, Joaquin Miller and Ina Coolbrith.