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Upright Pianos
Robert Demaree

Back from a fiftieth anniversary trip,
I ponder idly what makes love last.
Shared backgrounds cannot hurt.
Our fathers were servants of a sort,
Respected but poorly paid,
A teacher, a minister;
Our mothers Southern ladies
With a strong sense of self.
More than that, upright pianos
Keep us mindful of the past.
My parents bought one used,
Crackled black veneer.
I can hear my father playing “Margie,”
Ragtime-style, walking bass.
I practiced Czerny etudes
Just long enough to win release
To the solitary game I had devised,
A tennis ball thrown against
The incline of the cellar door,
Caught, or not, and scored
According to intricate rules,
Players with imaginary names.
Hers was a family piece,
Beautiful rosewood,
Passed down to us
Early in our life together,
The one our daughters played.
Their children have keyboards now,
So when we downsized, we learned
How hard it is to give a piano away.
At length burly men from some
Off-brand church hauled it out,
Promising a note of thanks,
For our tax records,
Which for some reason
Never came.

© by Robert Demaree.
Used with the author’s permission.




Robert Demaree is the author of four collections of poems and the winner of the 2007 Conway, N.H., Library Poetry Award. A retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, he has had over 600 poems published or accepted by 130 publications and anthologies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. To learn more about Robert, visit www.demareepoetry.blogspot.



Post New Comment:
"More than that, upright pianos keep us mindful of the past." Your nostalgia poem showed how certain things become a story of our family life.
Posted 05/19/2014 03:40 PM
Wonderful Robert and indeed a piano has followed me around many countries, a black one and we still have it. It's out of tune at the moment and I often forget I have it tucked away in the library. I really need to relearn all over again!! My daughter used to play too but past tense but who knows, maybe a grand-daughter (if I ever get one)? I will keep the piano anyway, such a lot of memories in those notes. Máire
Posted 05/19/2014 01:02 PM
Nice effort for the piano. My experience was different, as I had no trouble finding a buyer for a Professional Upright Steinway. But, I agree that a piano is a symbol of family life gone by. I have a medium grand today and am a part time teacher, so that is what a family piano did for me. I would never play a keyboard.
Posted 05/19/2014 10:18 AM
I love this poem, Bob. As usual, you really hit it with the details.
Posted 05/19/2014 09:52 AM
Glen Sorestad:
This one really hit the right chords with me, Robert.
Posted 05/19/2014 09:13 AM
Yes, the fate of used upright pianos, which are, themselves, a kind of space-and-money compromise, forms a wonderful symbol. Our son learned on one and now is a musical theater composer. Bravo, Robert!
Posted 05/19/2014 06:26 AM
This is a lovely but sobering memory poem.
Posted 05/19/2014 06:13 AM
I really liked this rambling poem. It hit all the right notes. Especially the last few lines. It said so much
Posted 05/19/2014 12:50 AM
I like this. It has its own unpredictable rhythm, which interests me, appropriate to the subject matter, and rings of reflective life.
Posted 05/18/2014 11:35 PM

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