Carol Jennings

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 1

In a chill Vienna rain,
a dash to the Konzerthaus
for your first piano concerto –
actually the second in time –
composed as a century closed
and you first knew your ears
were failing you.  I wonder
how you dealt with cold and damp
in your fingers as you worked out
solo parts on the keys –
or perhaps you didn’t feel it at all
as the inner voice propelled its way
out of you.  By the Largo in the middle,
I am warmed, emboldened, believe
perhaps I can play this too.

A year later, it is winter, and
as afternoons darken –
earlier each day – I open
my mother’s ragged score to that page
where your melodic yearning
will overheat me once again.
This is lonely work –
parsing only solo passages,
pausing for long measures
given only to strings or winds
that I have to play in my head,
as you did too,
alone in your upstairs flat.

This is how I connect myself
to a century that is not mine,
to buried family, to dreams
of a space I cannot visit.
Just absorbing the notes,
getting the touch and tempo,
the muted desire almost right
will suffice.

© Carol Jennings

Carol Jennings grew up in western New York State.  She attended The College of Wooster, and received her B.A., M.A., and J.D. from New York University.  She resides in Washington, DC, where she worked as an attorney with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for more than 30 years.  Her poems have appeared in publications including The New York QuarterlyPotomac ReviewChautauqua, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly.  Her first poetry collection, The Dead Spirits at the Piano, was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2016.

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