Mother’s Pianos

Mother’s Pianos

Ilya Kaminsky
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Whispering at night, I think I hear
my mother’s voice: did I turn off the stove? No not this

but did you plant the tulips over my grave?
No, not this, not this—my Sonya

but you are pregnant, daughter? Sonya!
my mother laughed, clever as a child.

I say “my mother” and again “my moth—”
but she is weeping in the orchestra

as they play Chopin: as the music bends
to her left, to her right. Sonya

where did my deafness come from? From underneath
the shoulder-blades, inside the elbows.

“On the day of my death I will be playing piano,” she smiled.
Mother did not play piano—

there was no piano, no piano, no piano—but I thought I saw
hundreds of old pianos forming

a bridge over the waters from Batnaystan to Alehia—and she sat at
each piano—she did not play, she simply sat. The wind in

her hair. Drops of water in her hair. Her hair in her mouth.

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