Station

This poem won Third place in the 2009 2-Day Poem Contest

When the piano arrived, suddenly

what had been simply our front room

became the parlour. The old Hamilton

gave my mother a sense of elegance missing

 

from her hard-scrabble pre-piano life.

She carried in her mind a kind of ruler, each mark

a gradation of class, white trash at the bottom,

a sorry lot stuck in a genetic quagmire.

 

The piano raised us from our sink of working class

almost to gentry, a step which required new clothes,

white gloves and spectator pumps,

bought at W.T. Grant’s and laid away

 

in a tissue-lined drawer with great ceremony,

never worn. New dresses, shirtwaists of the sort

she imagined a doctor’s wife might wear,

she had to improvise, her Singer clacking away

 

on Saturday afternoons, dial set to WLS and Milton Cross,

the Philco’s tubes glowing kumquat yellow

in the dim light of the hallway. Looking back

it seems to me that was when the rot set in,

 

my mother’s desire to climb into the middle class

a noxious effervescent gas emanating from the piano,

a piano only I could play, a barefoot snot-nosed child

playing Für Elise, a freak, like a pig in church.

Published online June 01 2009.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.


Poetry Only cover image

This piece was published in ‘Poetry Only,’ the Spring 2010 issue of CV2.

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