by Eileen Myles
says to the old
have a cup
man says now
I hate to sound old and grumpy, but I am having software angst with WordPress. Like every other software platform that feels the need to incessantly change everything, they have eliminated my old editor and gone with a new fancy block design thing that I do not find as intuitive as they claim it should be. I feel a fish out of water trying to figure it out. Things that were effortless before now take me a while to figure out or are down right frustrating. For everyone else who wants to link their blog to all kinds of social media they are probably thrilled. But as I have given up on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram I don’t really see any advantages yet to having all this new stuff and all my old stuff harder to find. I’ll get there after a while. I floundered around figuring out the old editor when I started my blog and I’ll flounder around figuring this one out too, but eventually I’ll swim in a straight line again.
The truth is things become obsolete. I am stubbornly loyal to some of my possessions; an antique dresser my Mother gave to me for a high school graduation gift that was completely impractical and was her way of saying; “make sure you have someplace to live, even if its not with me”, old floor lamps I have rewired, old tools that maybe aren’t as good as the newest technology but are familiar and have echoes of former projects that still resonate when I pick them up. However, I can eventually part with sentimental treasures. Not only did I take on responsibility for care and feeding for the dresser, but I also adopted my Mother’s antique upright piano, which had a cast iron plate nearly the size of a grand piano. It was a majestic behemoth that weighed what felt like an actual ton, with real ivory keys and pearl inlays and was built in the 1920s. My father and several of his friends had risked life and limb moving it from an apartment to our childhood home and I foolishly decided to do the same. For the first 4 houses I owned it made the move each time. Finally, in Mankato 15 years ago, I decided it was time to let it go. I tried selling it intact on Craigslist but no one wanted it. It was in need of a fair amount of restoration and it wasn’t worth it, as the new Yamaha electronic keyboards with keys that had action identical to a piano were all the rage. One Saturday morning after several months of trying to sell it, I woke up and decided the easiest way to dispose of it was to take it apart piece by piece and haul it to the dump. It was surprisingly easy. It’s components came apart with nothing more than a flat head screw driver and a sledge hammer to break up the cast iron once outside so that I could get it down to manageable pieces I could haul by myself. I honestly didn’t miss it once it was gone though the new lightweight perfect sounding Yamaha never managed to worm it’s way into my heart. Instead, I found my enjoyment of playing the piano had come to an end. In that moment of change, I had failed to understand that it wasn’t a new piano that I wanted, it was a new instrument – a pen.
Taking Apart My Childhood Piano
by Rebecca Macijeski
My mother and I sit on the back porch,
bare feet in summer grass
as we take the upright down to pieces,
breeze humming through its strings.
I extract each melodic tooth and sort them
in octaves for rinsing, tidy enclosure in boxes,
remembering in each how my young fingers
rioted over them searching for sound
and the way it grows like its own
unruly animal. The old piano
lies open to Sunday morning sun,
swallowing blossoms that drift over like stars
from the apple tree I climbed as a girl.
My mother and I sit here in a quiet
usually reserved for churches,
hands moving slowly over what we gather
—piles of soft hammers, odd coils of wire.
We take up wet rags and wash each wooden key
down its surface, wet music
pooling onto our skin.