Late into the night, or early into the morning,
She’s hunched over her Yamaha, cradling that Chopin nocturne she holds onto for dear life.
As she tenderly strokes each key, she can’t help but wonder,
What must he have gone through? To express sorrow of such a degree,
Weave every prick of melancholy, every stab of grief, into such a heart-wrenching melody.
Did he ever howl to the heavens, slash asunder the piano strings with a Swiss knife,
Shred the incomplete manuscript with his long fingers,
Hurl the fragments into the air, and let them fall more freely than the rain outside?
Did he ever use red ink, warning signs embedded within the stave,
Or did he simply slice open his veins?
Did he ever weep, watch the tears drip down,
Fill in the slits between the keys, but not the hole in his heart?
And did the tears ever rip the paper, or smudge the ink,
Until he decided to carve his compositions into the table instead?
Did he ever lose his way in the swirls of yet another treble clef, as he confided in his piano,
The secrets he could no longer tell anyone else?
Did he ever smile when he was finally able to double-line the last bar,
Knowing he’d poured out every sentiment residing within his cells.
And in his last, wheezing, breaths, did he ever imagine almost two centuries after his death,
I’d caress his nocturne, understand the piece as if I knew Chopin himself,
Sliding from note to note, the distance between my fingers measured to the last millimetre,
The switching of the pedal in time to my beating heart.
Will he ever know that I feel myself melt into the night,
When perhaps he too sat bent double over his pianoforte,
And maybe we’d ruminate in pure, distilled silence, staring into the spray of stars;
Notes lost in an empty stave-less hollow.
And we’d wonder why everything seems brighter when the sky is filled with shadows,
Why our hearts glow white-hot amidst a room flecked with silhouettes.
We’d listen to the gradual crescendo of the chirping birds, and dread the moment
When dawn would arrive.