A potted palm on top of her piano;
an old upright which had certainly seen
better days...like stepping back in time
to some erstwhile ‘sepia age’;
she, and the White Cliffs Hotel,
on the sea-front at Dover where we’d stop
with the kids for the night – channel-hopping
on the way to our holidays in France.
It became quite a family ‘thing’...
a kind of game we played. Would the lady
at the piano still be there this year?
Every time we went, we made bets
as to whether or not she’d ‘popped
her clogs’ yet...Irreverent, I know,
but we meant no harm...just
what one does, sometimes.
Fingers, bent and arthritic...stuttered,
then stroked the keys, as they trembled
like a bird – hesitant to land
on a quavering branch
lest it should snap.
Her pizzazz had got up and gone,
but her sostenuto – wistful;
the wind, singing through
the pines, was to die for,
and the melody fair ached
with a longing to be true
and yet these remnants of a tune
half remembered – half
forgotten – more lovely than
whatever it was foolish enough
to think it was.