..... poetry .....



"I Kept My Hands On The Keys"
(a dream of an American in Paris)

We met outside the gallery,
   both carrying our requisite share of black gear,
“So glad to meet you,” she said in her broken English.
Out of breath I replied, “Pleasure is mine,"
    attempting a French accent.
Leaning against my keyboard monolith,
    I paused and fell into a dream...
Her hair, 
   cascading like spooled, warm pasta,
   poised, but in motion.
Her eyes, 
   two pods of Venetian reflection,
   equal parts child, mermaid, and sage.
Her body,
   a string of Greek islands,
   majestic and timeless.
She was, impossibly beautiful...

My transition back to motor function returned
   thanks to an ancient elevator,
Eventually opening to a lavish gallery 
   overlooking the Seine River. 
Where art, 
   wine, and animated couches
Each one promising to envelop a guest more completely 
   than the previous.                               
You sang of the "Lullaby Of The Leaves",
   "Autumn In New York", and 
   "Autumn Leaves".
       (“. . . the falling leaves, drift by the window,
        the autumn kisses, I used to know . . .")

  not as a French patriot, but now, 
    an American In Paris.

With the first phrase, I felt your jacket 
   surrender to gravity with utmost 
With your second phrase, 
   your scarf.
The third, your blouse.
The fourth . . .
I kept my hands on the keys, my eyes on the music.

I responded with chords that begged for resolution,
   though not for too long, 
   their dissonance claiming just enough territory
   to alert the moon and its minions. 
I kept my hands on the keys, and my eyes on the music.

The top of my keyboard whistled,
   echoing your breath, 
   and the movement of thought,
   turned liquid.
I kept my hands on the keys, my eyes on the music.

Trails of melodic commentary continued down into the bass,
   where the movement of play and interplay
   alluded to the origin of the double bass, 
A singular instrument that revels in wandering vocal melodies, 
   that yearn to escape the anchors of time and tonality.         
Its large, proud torso creating momentary shifts of altitude
   and attitude.
I kept my hands on the keys, and my eyes on the music.

Soon enough we found ourselves skiing through the mountains
   of Downhill Bebop.
Mercilessly, I kept you in front of me as the g-forces raced forth,
   letting your body fly through your voice.
You, knowing at your core that I would never let you fall,
   relishing how you maneuvered through more and more
   rhythmic trees that I placed in your path.

Were there bawdy pieces that night? 
   Of course, though their memory fades faster than
   more coy musical flirtations do. 

This game that new lovers play is, 
   best-served in front of an audience that understands
   the anticipation of foreplay, 
   quiet drunkenness,
   and the thrill of complete surprise. 

As we packed our gear and talked with separate admirers, 
   the Seine river below us was alive,
   twinkling its delight, 
   having seen this play countless times over the centuries. 
When we finally said Good Night, 
   I kept my hands on my car keys and my eyes on The Light. 

August 2012





©2017, Michael Smolens