long, curved, mahogany monitor
practice an eternal hour to its ticking,
etude, dangerous journey,
sound coming in spurts or gusts
metronome mocking

its four varnished surfaces
and the swinging hand that made
the click, clack all the hour

how lucky they said I was
to have the piano to play
that used to be my grandmother’s
click, clack to my uneven notes
my unfinished scales

the music teacher said
just let it lead you,
let it take you in
this telltale heart
click clack

at night it clicked and clacked
through my dreams, get up it said
put on your clothes, go out
and wait for the school bus
with the bully, do arithmetic
say the tables to click clack
write your lessons to click clack

go home and sit at the piano
while your friends play softball
in the empty lot. click clack
when was the Spanish Armada
who invented the cotton gin
click clack

I would smash it with my father’s sledgehammer
I would shoot it with my brother’s gun
that delicate mahogany instrument
click clack

Janet McCann