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U3A Writing: Silent Keys

Merle Parkin's poem tells of her Gran's much-loved piano.

"The thing needs tuning," I hear them say,
"Is it worth the money, for who can play?"
In a shadowy corner, it gathers dust,
And its keys turn yellow, its poor wires rust.
It crouches there like a dog in disgrace,
For a modem keyboard has taken its place,
That takes less room, and needs less fuss.
"What folds when it's not in use suits us!"
Gran cherished and played the old one here,
And polished its mirror-smooth veneer.
So it wouldn't warp in our hot, dry air,
She kept a crock of water in there,
Inside its cabinet. Oh, what a sight
Was each gleaming key, which she made stark white.
Her children played it too, with joy,
Each pigtailed girl, each freckled boy,
And someone's aunt, when firelight glowed,
Would set the place in party mode
With tinkling trills; some song of yore,
That stayed around from war to war.
For in those days no glad refrain
Would gurgle down the weekly drain
Of some ungodly hit parade -
The songs of yesteryear don't fade!
Each brand-new swain, his love would woo
With serenades his Grandpa knew.
NOW overlapping the ends of the stool,
Some pair would dredge from memory's spool
A childhood-learned, half-lost duet,
To prove that they did not forget -
She, wrinkled from life's harsh demands,
Her brother with vast labourer's hands,
And gathered round, the crowd would cheer
The mellow songs of yesteryear.
But now the kids run in and out,
Flinging their muddy feet about,
"Plit, plit," the raindrops sound above,
But Gran's not there to guard her love;
The rain slants in upon the breeze,
And flecks the dust on silent keys.

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