by Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy

Each night I return to this discipline:
a straight-back on a hard bench
in an unheated room, sometimes uncooled,
embarked on Czerny without end
or pun, an unsmiling bondage.

The piano is the heaviest thing
I own: heavier than a set of weights
or a complicated exercise machine, heavier
than a small car and travelling further.

Allowed inside it will not be ignored.
It expands to fill the biggest room.
A planet, it draws me
past armchairs, past cooling meals,
past better versions by other people

Yet it contains no music.
Nor are there images to be had inside:
no moonlight or sunken churches,
no picturesque exhibitions.
If I push back the lid I find
only notes: black and white,
loud and soft, sharp and flat.

The wrong alone are of interest:
as long as there is error
there is hope, there is a day's hard work,
there is perfection to be again disproved.

As for hands: a kind of mob
which must be broken.
This delinquent right index, that lazy left little.
Even you, thumbs --- yes, you, in the middle ---
have whittled toothpicks on demand,
have moved holes from here to here

as I sit upright, nightly:
stern-faced, rod-backed,
posed as if before a mirror
or on a starting-block, facing the music,
aiming to break the minute waltz.

Last updated February 21, 2023