Portrait of My Father as a Pianist
Behind disinfected curtains, beyond touch of sunrise devouring the terrible gold of leaves, a man could be his own eternal night. City flattened to rubble, his surviving height a black flight of notes: the chip-toothed blade and oldest anesthetic. Escaped convict, he climbs wild-eyed, one hand out— running its twin on the rails of a broken Steinway. Who has not been found guilty of a carrion cry—the dream of a feathered departure one has not earned, then fall back down teeming fault lines of the flesh? Memory recedes into nocturne, a kingdom born of spruce and fading light— he reaches in the end what he had to begin with: fingertips on corrupted tissue, cathedral of octaves in his thinning breath, tears like small stubborn gods refusing to fall.
Copyright © 2017 by Cynthia Dewi Oka. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
Cynthia Dewi Oka
Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Salvage (Northwestern University Press, 2017).
Date Published: 2017-12-07
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/portrait-my-father-pianist