All along, he was memorizing Handel
The way he taught himself to worship
Fullness, Alberti bass...
Wrong chord with one too many g sharps.
The way I breathed through his wax paper lungs
And tanning baby skin
When all sorts of chemical molasses
Was prying open my window, playing
At airborne thievery to snatch away
A pianist's only fiction.
Ink always stretched for him, satisfied with drying;
Complacent in acting substitute
Nurse for a night or two.
He would gaze with chronic wonder
At wobbly bar lines, sloppy dotted eighths:
Our childhood disease never left off her tyranny
On the lichen-soft rug
Of his curly European hair.
What am I supposed to capture, then,
That could possibly be so secret,
As the way he plays with scherzo?
I guard - overmuch - his elbows
So fond of suspended animation and hard
You're too much a dancer for Clementi, I'll mutter, knowing
All the while he could make Schumann
Disapprove of me,
Punish me and my fake pluviophile poetics; never
Give a father's blessing
To that sort of accusatory motion-picture composer
Who should've been a violinist.
But he'll cry, just for comfort, as he pounds out
Another diminished seventh,
And keep his toddler wishes spiraling and winging
Their hawkish way up to the gilded yellowing moon;
I will be everything but pleased
With scribbling only the wooliest words
To settle cloaklike
Over his stooped, shaking shoulders.