Moving the Piano

By Kathryn Petruccelli
Feature image: The Keynote, 1915 by William Arthur Chase. Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) Photo © Tate

It takes almost nothing
to step into each other’s lives: a favor
for a neighbor, a huge, upright Steinway
there’s no one left to play.

All morning they labored together,
the men. Everything they could think of
to get it out of the van
                                          and over the curb—
metal ramp, wooden boards, a jack,
the old bed frame from behind the garage.

Dave had never asked my husband
for anything before. The house
he’d grown up in was already packed,
mementos sold, his mother’s mind

skipping liberally among the decades,
her fingers running through chords in the air
or waltzing grandly
through measures of Chopin.


                                                     His father
stooped from his own burdens, aged beyond
his years, nodding when people talked
about his new facility, so highly regarded,
so clean. There was sweat, grunting,

my husband mumbled a curse
as they argued about angles, pushed
their charge up the cracked walkway,
three shallow steps to the porch.

And because we have no better idea
how to be with each other
in our pain,
                       when they’d finally struggled
the monstrous instrument
into Dave’s house, they could only
wipe their hands on their jeans,
crack their knuckles, and share
a pizza, which they ate standing
in the kitchen, hunched over
its grease-stained box.


Best of the Net nominee Kathryn Petruccelli holds an MA in teaching English language learners. Her students have included Hungarian high schoolers, Korean business managers, and rival gang members. She was a finalist for the 2019 Omnidawn Broadside Poetry Prize. Her work has recently appeared in Rattle, Poet Lore, River Teeth’s Beautiful Things, december, SWWIM, Catamaran Literary Reader, Literary Mama, Ruminate, and Glass. She teaches online writing workshops from western Massachusetts. Find her at poetroar.com.

Twitter: @kathrynpetruccelli

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