The front room was my grandmother’s forte,
kept only for a grand occasion or visitor.
Her prizes – the china cabinet and upright piano,
unplayed since my mother was a girl.

–   Until my father found the record player
in the attic and the sarcophagus silence
was broken by Sinatra and Astaire.
And we were gifted the legacy to listen

to the wind-up music while the family watched
television in the cramped middle room,
the sound deafening for my grandad’s miner’s ear,
while the parlour vibrated with syncopation.

So we sung along, dancing wildly to Winifred Atwell,
pretending to be prairie winds or rain pattering.
–     until Bing exhorted heaven for the fall of snow
And grabbing the winter globe we shook the flakes

passing the world between us but missing a beat
it slipped shattering ice on the tiled grate.
Frozen for a moment, we listened to see
who would come hammering while the 78

stopped its flourish and revolved on the deck.
A handkerchief held the water and snow.
No half-step or damper stopped our momentum.
We shoved the pieces under the abandoned piano,

safe in the knowledge no adult hand
could squeeze there. Each time we left,
we slipped a piece in a pocket, dispensing
the evidence, aware of the piano’s quiet disapproval.

Later, sensing the pianissimo of complicity,
we slipped notes and objects in its fallboard,
safe in the feeling that amongst its sharps and flats
our masterworks would not be played.

Jude Brigley
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