Reading Around, May 22nd
Your Own Summer Reading List?

Poetry Friday: "Teaching Them a Thing or Two"

For Poetry Friday, it's my pleasure to share a poem by my friend Sherry Keller. This one comes from her chapbook "Drawn to Water." The poem's copyright belongs to Sherry, who generously granted permission to reprint it here. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced without permission.

Teaching Them a Thing or Two

by Sherry Keller

Miss Fannie was my second cousin
though much older—in her fifties.
I was fourteen.
She pounded that piano as if she were trying
to kill it.
Tinny chords in a
mesmerizing miasma of
Roooock of Aaaaages.
Sleep inducing chinking chords so
slow molasses caught up to it.
I jittered.
I tapped.
I wanted it to move.
Church was boring enough
without Miss Fannie's arthritis-wracked fingers
sort of finding the notes in the
slowest progression of one note after the other possible.
It seemed like days,
then church was out.

My piano lessons progressed.
Week after week.
And then a miracle happened.
Miss Fannie was up north
to see her daughter.
Would I play for church today?
Here I go.
I won't be slow.
Rkuv Ages
at a steady clip.
I was bent
on keeping the beat.
They're straining,
they're sounding surprised.
I am determined not
to give in.
I finished
a whole measure ahead.

Sherry Keller lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband of 41 years, Tom. She has two grown children, Eric and Robyn, and an adorable 6-year-old granddaughter, Lily. She helps run the Constant Reader group on GoodReads. Many of her photographs are online here.

I thought of the teenage pianist in "Teaching Them a Thing or Two" as I read Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson, by Tricia Tunstall, a longtime piano teacher. Last week Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief at The Horn Book, recommended this book (for grown-ups) at his blog, Read Roger, and readers chimed in with memories of lessons. Publishers Weekly said of Note by Note, "... for those tempted to dismiss this slim volume because they've never had a music lesson or read a score, this too short memoir offers a rare glimpse into a fascinating world." Note by Note has me thinking of piano lessons again after many, many years.

See Becky's Book Reviews for links to other Poetry Friday blog posts. (I'm posting early, but the roundup ought to be available by Friday morning.)


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HAH! I SWEAR Sherry has played at my church before. This is so fun. Thanks for sharing it.

I absolutely love this! Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

TadMack and Writer2b, can't you just picture this! Sherry's poem always makes me chuckle.

That is really funny. Love the speaker's determined, stubborn voice. And the whole poem builds with that determined intensity. Ending it on that "whew" is a great way to send us off.

Thanks for sharing.

You're quite welcome, Jules. Can't you just picture the determined piano player?

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