26 Nov 2018 poem

Untold

My grandmother never mentioned to me she played piano.
Or that great grandfather worked overtime to pay for the lessons.

Or that she preferred Joplin over Mozart,
but her father would not allow that music in his house.

I learned grandmother ran away from home as a young woman
from my mother in a story she wrote my nieces.

I learned from an old letter grandmother married for love—
the first man she met who played ragtime.

Here I am trying to assemble her from what is left behind
in a suffocating attic with dust smothered stories.

I start a new digital remastered recording of Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag
to view a solitary photograph of grandmother mottled with water stains

of her tickling ivory in a mixed race piano bar
back when by law and tradition the races did not mix in public.


Note: I never knew my grandmother, either of them, so I inform you this is a fictional piece.


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