by Tai Carmen
My grandfather’s desk was a clutter of keepsakes,
notes and keys, amber and tusks,
drawers I’d go through as a child.
On the mantle he kept my grandmother’s high heels
— faded purple silk – positioned, one on its side,
as if she’d just kicked them off.
His typewriter sat stoic, sparingly used
– industrial blue, ivory keys, quaint type –
forsaken for shaky print on yellow legal pads,
half-written memories – a biography in notes.
Did he ever weep on the worn wood?
Lay down his head after describing
his mother’s long hair, red as cinnamon.
Long hours spent writing in the slow light of late day
about the scars of growing up Catholic —
and being hated for his German last name during the war,
disgruntled paperboy of Minnesota winters,
collecting tin for soldiers to prove loyalty.
When I was ten he bought my cousin and I
upright pianos. Francis Bacons.
Mine survived being dropped by the movers,
and eighteen years of abuse, marked up,
dented and scarred. Tape on the keys,
cup rings on the wood.
The tuner came and took its guts out,
left the black keys in a pile overnight.
You played it wide open, the front panel removed,
the wooden ribs hitting the harp strings in full view,
strange inner workings, like watching a heart beat.
Tai Carmen is a portland-based writer. She holds a degree in Literature with a Creative Writing Emphasis form USCB, and has one collection of poems out on Finishing Line Press. She keeps a weekly blog, PARALLAX: Exploring The Architecture of Human Perception, and is currently at work on her first novel.