Pianists Should Practice Between 30 Minutes to 4 Hours Per Day
G block, free block, my boyfriend of two weeks has something to show me,
so we are in Practice Room #3 and I think he is going to play me a song
on the wooden upright, but instead he unzips his pants and asks me if he should keep
going. He hasn’t even put his tongue in my mouth. We don’t last, but it’s not long
until another boy has something to share, and again I am standing in Room #3,
its eggshell, soundproof walls crusted with the off-white remnants of other students’ training.
Don’t bring a blacklight in here he jokes as he reaches into his pants and pulls out
a packet of Pop Rocks. He pours them into his mouth and pushes my back
up against the wall. I wonder how many girls have stood exactly where I am now,
the ass of my embroidered bell-bottoms pressed into the shadow of theirs, like we are all sitting
in each others’ laps, but then I am sticking my tongue into a firework. It bursts,
before fizzling out in a sticky, neon-blue cave of spit. Couples, all hands and mouths
and careful backwards glances, gambol down the music wing hallway towards
the promise of a closed door. Mr. Peisch bursts in between blocks to make sure
we are not doing what we are doing. I learn the right hand melody
of The Music of the Night so that we can sound busy, hips sinking together
on the tiny stool. We warm up, change partners, play duets, trios, improve
our technique, learn to moan in pianissimo - because we are here to get an education.
At our five year reunion, I drag my college boyfriend down the oddly empty hallway towards #3
to show him something new, and find a window in the center of each warped door
and a lone girl practicing her scales on a state-of-the-art, electric Yamaha
with plastic keys and infinite effects, its cord snaking to the outlet where we used to make
Each Summer the Last Summer, Each Minute the Last Minute
A found poem
The summer pushes her tongue into the winter’s throat.
She is scooped out and bow-like,
ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky.
Her harpist’s wild red hair
like fire, like fountains leaping,
alive, moving among the anti-touch people
like a tongue passing over a bloody knife.
She dotes on what the wild birds say,
the angle of light that burns water,
the splash of words in passing
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
where no sea leaps upon itself.
This is how you live when you have a cold heart.
You will ache for slow beauty to save you from your quick, quick life
and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wing.
They’re trying to wash the river in her blood,
in your lifetime of touch.
You do not have to be good.
Until the blunting of time,
waking up in the same skin isn’t enough
to keep the wound wide open.
Stephanie Saywell (she/her/hers) is a queer, NYC-based choreographer, performer, and published poet. She holds two BAs (Dance & Written Arts) from Bard College, plus a Certificate of Completion from the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre's Professional Training Program. She has studied poetry under the tutelage of Megan Falley, Ann Lauterbach, and Michael Ives, and short fiction under Paul LaFarge. Her work has been published in Ink & Letters and Muzzle Magazine. www.stephaniesaywell.com
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