Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Piano

When she plays the piano and I’m half listening
as I read in the newspaper the terrible history
of some person doing something,
I’ll look over at her, and she’s
turning a sheet, reading,
each finger effortlessly finding the next key,
and then moving on to the next, finding
her proper place, which is part memory,
part paying attention to a thing.
When she plays the piano,
I like to think she’s somehow included me,
but it’s the missed note that brings
her back to Earth, a wrong key
when she plays.


Copyright © 2017 Stephen Gibson. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Spring 2017.


Stephen Gibson

Stephen Gibson is the author of several poetry collections, including Self-Portrait in a Door-Length Mirror (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), selected by Billy Collins as the winner of the 2017 Miller Williams Poetry Prize; Rorschach Art Too (Story Line Press, 2014), winner of the Donald Justice Prize; and Rorschach Art (Red Hen Press, 2001).

Of his work, the poet R. T. Smith writes, “A master of surprising and unforgettable juxtaposition, Gibson invokes myth, history and the crises of the moment to reveal both ‘the anonymous connection to all damage’ and the necessity of empathy.”

Gibson, who retired in 2015, taught at Palm Beach State College for thirty-two years. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Selected Bibliography

Self-Portrait in a Door-Length Mirror (University of Arkansas Press, 2017)
The Garden of Earthly Delights Book of Ghazals (Texas Review Press, 2016)
Rorschach Art Too (Story Line Press, 2014)
Paradise (University of Arkansas Press, 2011)
Frescoes (Lost Horse Press, 2010)
Rorschach Art (Red Hen Press, 2001)

Date Published: 2017-07-27

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