“The Broken Piano” by Peter Filkins

Have all your melodies left you,
your keyboard idle as dentures,
voided now of its raggedy tunes?

Even so, time still plays you,
abandoned in this drafty barn,
where at night the mouse’s struggle

ekes out its panicked syncopation
beneath the owl’s wheeling shadow
as a shutter clatters in the manic wind.

Winter having chilled you, summer
expanding your soundboard’s grain,
music, like desolation, has become

for you an opus cordoned off
by shrieks and groans, broken strings
whose memory of a hammer’s blow

is sweetened by a finger’s touch
somewhere coaxing out a last scherzo
before dissonant, cold neglect set in.

And yet you remain, upright, serene,
your impassive bulk anchoring the dark
hushed rafters, the hayloft poised to hear

the concert of your ruin, silence
the answering choir whose crescendo
is final and certain, harrowing the applause.

~ From The View We’re Granted, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

Peter FilkinsPeter Filkins was born and raised in western Massachusetts, where he teaches writing and literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. He has published three full-length collections of poetry: What She Knew (1998), After Homer (2002), and most recently The View We’re Granted (2012), which was named co-winner of the Sheila Motton Best Book Award from the New England Poetry Club. His 2010 chapbook, Augustine’s Vision, won the New American Press Chapbook Award, in 2007 he received the Stover Prize in Poetry from Southwest Review, and he has been the recipient of a Berlin Prize and a Fulbright. He is also the translator of Ingeborg Bachmann’s collected poems, Darkness Spoken, and the novels of H.G. Adler.