Art and poetry on page and stage



Micah Ling

Piano Lesson

My mother left a check for twelve dollars on the counter
each Wednesday. I slipped it in my pocket
and crept four blocks: Andover Road to Stanford
to Bedford. Mrs. Kearn’s house smelled of books
and dog food. She had a son who was deformed
and always with a blank face. Sometimes he answered
the door, and she shooed him like the old dachshund.
She had a double chin that may have been made of marzipan—
I so wanted to touch it—and, honestly
I thought about what it would be like to bite it:
not because I wanted to, but because I had never seen
something so plump. I spent more time thinking
about soft flesh than piano chords. She sat in a chair
next to the piano bench. She’d reach around me
and pull the sheet music off its shelf to pencil
some note about this or that. She smelled of saccharine
perfume she’d likely had since she was a girl. I hated
the whole scene. The hot lamp, the clock arms itching
around. But when Mrs. Kearn made me switch seats
and she really got going, with her fingers, up and down
the keys—there was nothing so intoxicating.