(Video, c. 1986)

She likes my tie

better than my playing

he says, embarrassing

escorts struck mute

by the magisterial aura

of greatness.  It’s quite a bow-tie:

floppy, purple, white dots

upstaging his faintly amused

liverish face – a comic companion

to the cardigan he wears

against the Evil Eye.


Then he leans into a ballade. 

The bland lidded glance becomes a

rapier, probing.  Hands that seem small

span octaves, flat on the keys

in ways decades of teachers have

warned not to imitate.  Cadenzas

spin out in paradox --

sonorous yet light, as though hammered

by feathers.  A final flourish: 

the swoop and filigreed rush


of ballet.  He rises,

suddenly frail.  She still likes

my tie better he smiles, picking

his way through practice chairs. 

A dazzling arc --

sun through an opened door

perhaps; or Apollo passing --

bleaches the view.

Version first published in The Raven's Perch (Oct. 31, 2020)