“Love Is An Airborne Thing”
—After Gerald Stern
All I want is to sit cross-legged once more under our square grand piano and hear the
felted hammers rain music over my head as my mother’s bare foot—her toes with a pink
shimmer of polish—pumps the the pedals. House of the Rising Sun is her favorite and though
I don’t know what that means, I think a house after dawn is beautiful, just like her
knees that bump the piano’s edge every time she presses down and has to lean forward on
the broken stool, the heel of her left foot raised for balance. Her nails never stop clicking
the keys. During the loud parts I press my palms up to the instrument’s belly, and feel the
wings of birds lift in one chord, and I no longer have hands but feathers. Everything—
piano, mother, me—is risen.
*The Weber square grand-piano was manufactured in New York in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries. It’s known for its Rosewood body, which was carved in
the Victorian Rococo style.