Jean

My husband’s grandmother has lost many of her teeth
but she put on blue eyeliner for my visit.
She says, “the next time you see me, I’ll look very different”,
and lets out a resilient noise that I’m reluctant to name
knowing I lack the aptitude to name it well and fairly.
She is more beautiful at 90 than she was when I first met her at 88
having foregone hair dye, her hair now white, and long, not messy but uncoiffed
and not wearing an “outfit” complete with flashy cheap handbag,
There is nothing between us to distract or to dull the effect of her eyes.
Her eyes are a pale electric greenish-blue
become striking as they’ve receded into the shadows
beneath her sharper brow-bones.
Jean says, “let me tell you something about music”.
As a child, she loved a piece called Falling Waters
because, she says,
“I imagined how you would choreograph a dance to it”
so she taught herself to play it, by ear.
after two lessons, the piano teacher told the Scottish sisters who had adopted her
out of foster care, and who wanted to encourage her ability,
“I will not teach Jean.
She hears the music
she will always hear it
you will never get her
to read it off a page”.

2 thoughts on “Jean

  1. Kathodus

    That inspired me to look up “Falling Waters” (what a perfect title for a song referenced in this poem!), and I came across this tidbit about the composer (words wrapped in parentheses are corrections of what I believe to be mistakes in the OCRing of the original article.):

    “Professor Truax is stone blind. He became blind at the (age) of ten years, and all his musical education was obtained in perfect darkness. He is a rather good-looking man of thirty-five or forty, and devotes his (whole) time to music. In writing a piece of music, he seats himself at the piano and works out tho air on (the) instrument, according to (the) laws of harmony and musical composition, repeating and improving upon each part until every note is in the right place and exactly (the) right length and (force).”

    So, doubly appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

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