maybe only ruin could take its full measure

September 28, 2009

a key unfoundIn church the group of children gather in front with the woman wearing a churchy hat. Her soft girlish voice instructs them, “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and she begins outlining a letter U in the air to the beat of an imaginary song: “Ready, set, sing.”

Fifteen small mouths obey and start singing on whatever note their voice finds in its opening.

My mom is stationed at her every Sunday seat: sloppily at the piano, one leg folded underneath her and slouching over the keys she knows how to navigate so well. She waits there all morning for hints that a moment needs musical accompaniment.

She deciphers this moment as one and tries to slyly press keys in search of which one their voices could migrate to and stay awhile. We must make wrong sounds to uncover what’s right. Jesus loves the (PLINK) little chil(PLINK PLINK)dren (PLINK)… And it goes on, interrupting the barely-song with blatant sounds of WRONG FALSE FAILURE PAIN

until that moment when she somehow suddenly knows. That slight switch of knowledge released by her pressing a key that opens something inside her, invisible to all the onlookers cringing with each bad note, lets her shape every finger made new into perfect chords, drawing the dissonant child voices into an accord for now. Tricking voices singing into sounding like song. Immeasurably better than before she started. The wrong notes that carried her there fade into backs of minds.

I am my mother’s well-intentioned searching fingers. I’m dissonant and intrusive and can’t wait until things fall into place so I can just play.


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