What I Learned from Her Music

“If you can speak you can sing,
And if you can walk you can dance,”
She used to say.
We all would laugh behind
Our hands
And raise our eyebrows, never
Believing, because we were
Too clumsy,
Too busy,
Too young, and she was
Too naive.

But we loved her the same,
I loved her the same,
Even when “same” meant 
Occasionally, during the times she played
The right notes or sang
The right pitch.

I remember she was graceful
Like a swan,
In temperament and in words and in actions.
I remember she expected
The best of us,
The best of me;
But her encouragement was
Her expectations were
Her punishment was
Disappointment, so deep you
Couldn’t help but bow your head
Till you touched your toes,
Utterly ashamed.

It was she 
Who came to me at the end of class
One day and told me
To keep singing,
Because I had potential
Because I was unique
Because I was planning to quit.

Because of her,
I didn’t.

I kept going.
I kept singing.
I kept believing I had

And I succeeded. All
Because of her.

I expected those memories to last—
We all did.
So things went unsaid,
Thanks went ungiven,
Melodies, unsung
Mistakes, unforgiven

It wasn’t until she was gone that I realized all the
Things I didn’t say, the
Thanks I never gave, and the
Melodies I never sang
To her.

But you can’t give those things
When the person you loved
Is gone.

So instead,
I cling to memories
Singing in the dark with eleven other beautiful voices,
Breathing to the rhythm,
Meditating on the floor,
Stretching my hands to the air and
Throwing my voice into the clouds;

I cling to the tutoring she gave me before auditions
And the times when she’s smile at me and say,
“You’re ready,”
And how something would just
Inside me like the hot chocolate 
We would drink after 
Caroling at Little America,
Or the adrenaline
That pulsed in my veins the first time I sang a high C for our concert at
Carnegie Hall.

She made me feel alive.

She made me feel loved.

She made me feel like I could
Like I could

So I didn’t
Cry, I didn’t
Laugh, I didn’t
When she left—
I kept singing.
I kept dancing.
I kept going.

And someday, when I’m ready
I’ll visit her stone and tell her all of the
Thing I never said,
Thanks I never gave,
And sing the
Songs I never sang.

But until then, I will continue to
Cling to the memories,
As purely as she did, and
Until the dreams I thought I’d never achieve
Are reality.

This poem is about: 
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741