Jean Rodenbough: Two Poems

The Pianist

Her twisted fingers, like ghosts
long past their dreams, sought keys
to lost skills.  Debussy, Chopin,
those Russians, lingered upon the piano
she bought with her savings of forty
years.  I heard without care,
wrapped in my own dreams.
Her life instead was duty wrapped
in motherhood, faithful to her war-
scarred mate, longing for never
realized moments:  banana boat
cruises to South America, conducting
an orchestra, her paintings on exhibit.
My granddaughter plays her piano.
Her seascape is displayed
on my daughter’s wall.
The keys to her life are gone.
Now I hear.
Now I care.


At the Corner

Tire tracks lead to this story:
a cement post crumbled
beside the fallen sign “Forest Edge”
(in spite of this neighborhood’s
pavement and small homes
and domesticated pets
like cats and shelter dogs
who compete with stray deer
seeking succulent blooms
in gardens so cultivated
that the forest vanished)

yet not far from us remain the woods
where wild ones live and raise
their young
I would be wild with them and steer
my body to those traveled paths
among trees and fallen leaves
following trails of passing mysteries
where another law still governs all
who inhabit this semi-wildness

the sign is down, against the tree,
the remaining post serves witness
to all that changes, squared off
in denial of nature’s gifts
while the tread of tires fades,
a turning of the corner to our lives
once also wild, now tamed beyond our will.