Piano Lessons

Roderick Benziger

She taught me from scratch to Bach
singing each phrase beforehand
giving every treacherous note
a firmly pencilled reminder
like teeth to be brushed at night.

Scales for her were wholesome as work,
for me, ladders to plod up
and nip down empty-handed;
daft as tables chanted at school.
Mother hoped and waited.

I wanted her to stop teaching and
play, for then her concern
let go of mother-worry
and all I'd hear was the stream's dance
no drip, drop; and I'd feel in league

with my five-year-old self, cocooned in bed,
a bar of light under the door,
my mother playing distant
and near, her singing touch
a woman's tenderness.