A new arrival

Catherine’s piano

Something’s up.
We can tell
As soon as we walk in.

In breathless reverence
We follow you, like visitors
Here to greet a sleeping newborn.

The old upright,
Mourned but unmissed,
Is gone. Now all we see

Is this half-dozen cubic yards
Of softly-gleaming, midnight-lacquered magic
Parked here like a limousine.

But no mere car
Could make my eyes pop
And mouth drop open

Like this boudoir grand
Black as a conductor’s tail-coat
Shiny as a pair of patent shoes.

Half a lifetime’s working, saving,
Dreaming and imagining,
Irresistible to eyes and hands.

Your joy rings out in every note
Of my little one’s halting scales
And almost-there arpeggios,

The roll of sound voluptuous
As the piano’s planes and curves:
To think it might have been condemned

To drawing-room adornment,
A fancy piece of furniture
Touched only to be dusted.

Inspired by the magnificent new (to her) instrument our daughter’s piano teacher surprised us with when we arrived at her house on Friday. Most folks, having saved up for 25 years, would blow the money on a car or a holiday. So God bless Catherine for choosing a second-hand grand piano – and, what’s more, using it for teaching, not just her own amusement. I’d never encountered a ‘boudoir grand’ before: apparently it’s the next size up from a ‘baby’. And although it’s quite petite compared to a full-size concert grand, it’s still an imposing instrument, and makes even my 10-year-old’s Grade 3 pieces sound like a Rachmaninov recital. Wonderful.

10 thoughts on “A new arrival

  1. I love the lines “here to greet a sleeping newborn” and “parked here like a limosine” – those are great descriptions. As a piano teacher myself, I hope to one day treat my students (and myself!) to baby grand piano! (although mine will be unfinished hardwood). I hope that they show as much appreciation for it as you have 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your visit and kind comment, Jessica. I’m in awe of all musicians and music teachers (I’m only a very mediocre flute-player myself) so I’m glad the poem works for you. I’ve had a quick look at your blog and it’s really inspiring – I’ve added it to my blogroll.

  2. Hi Nick,
    What a lovely poem 🙂 I think your daughter is very wise, and if she is lucky, she will have such joy from owning her instrument!
    Now you can play together and form your own band 🙂

    As a child,I had a white second hand piano, also from saving, never found anyone to teach me how to play though,but I tried to myself. When we moved to another house, the thing had to be lifted. Years later, my parents needed to rebuild and the piano had to go. A vicar bought it. before he came to collect it, we (some friends of my fathers who were going to lift and my family) decided I should clean the thing from the inside. And I found 4 bottles of Hansen rum in the lower part of the piano 🙂 left overs from my fathers smuggling days, long before the removal! It made it a lot easier to lift, and for me, to part with the instrument! 🙂

  3. Hi Nicfk

    This is brilliant! You create such a vivid picture with all of it.

    I love “softly -gleaming, midnight-laquered magic”. That is a simply delicious line.

    I also love stanza 8; that seems to be the fate of many grand pianos I think.

    A wonderful poem.


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