Robert Pinsky

The Green Piano

Aeolian. Gratis. Great thunderer, half-ton infant of miracles 
Torn free of charge from the universe by my mother's will. 
You must have amazed that half-respectable street 

Of triple-decker families and rooming-house housepainters 
The day that the bole-ankled oversized hams of your legs 
Bobbed in procession up the crazy-paved front walk 

Embraced by the arms of Mr. Poppik the seltzer man 
And Corydon his black-skinned helper, tendering your thighs 
Thick as a man up our steps. We are not reptiles: 

Even the male body bears nipples, as if to remind us 
We are designed for dependence and nutriment, past 
Into future. O Europe, they budged your case, its ponderous 

Guts of iron and brass, ten kinds of hardwood and felt 
Up those heel-pocked risers and treads splintering tinder. 
Angelic nurse of clamor, yearner, tinkler, dominator — 

O Elephant, you were for me! When the tuner Mr. Otto Van Brunt 
Pronounced you excellent despite the cracked sounding board, we 
Obeyed him and swabbed your ivories with hydrogen peroxide. 

You blocked a doorway and filled most of the living room. 
The sofa and chairs dwindled to a ram and ewes, cowering: now, 
The colored neighbors could be positive we were crazy and rich, 

As we thought the people were who gave you away for the moving 
Out of their carriage house — they had painted you the color of pea soup. 
The drunk man my mother hired never finished antiquing you 

Ivory and umber, so you stood half done, a throbbing mistreated noble, 
Genuine — my mother's swollen livestock of love, lost one, unmastered: 
You were the beast she led to the shrine of my genius, mistaken. 

Endlessly I bonged according to my own chord system Humoresque, 
The Talk of the Town, What'd I Say. Then one day they painted you pink. 
Pink is how my sister remembers you the Saturday afternoon 

When our mother fell on her head, dusty pink as I turn on the bench 
In my sister's memory to see them carrying our mother up the last 
Steps and into the living room, inaugurating the reign of our confusion. 

They sued the builder of the house she fell in, with the settlement 
They bought a house at last and one day when I came home from college 
You were gone, mahogany breast, who nursed me through those 

Years of the Concussion, and there was a crappy little Baldwin Acrosonic 
In your place, gleaming, walnut shell. You were gone, despoiled one —
Pink one, forever-green one, white-and-gold one, comforter, living soul.