My mother tells me it was good
Out of the spine of the piano my mother
is calling, and for the first time her voice to me
is jazz. Through my headphones
and a black man’s touch on the keys and strings
I hear her -- the tingles and flashes, rolls, sparks
and hints that used to fill the white church
under the shadow of the cross, telling me
There is more to piano music than "Jesus Saves"
and more to my mother than what I know.
In crystalline notes of his, I recognize her timed pause,
a drop from an icicle melting in the sun
that falls the moment just after you know you want it.
In duet, a saxophone’s smoke rises to the sun,
helping it warm my mother’s piano confessions to me
drop by drop -- those revelations I envisioned, prayers
she breathed in a jazz club before she found God,
suspended, frozen in the veil of her past, yet whispered
through chinks -- in winks and inklings to me
on the black and white hymned keys for the someday, this day,
when I feel their beating hum in the melting icicle of my spine.
Hear a podcast of this poem here.~ Ruth M.