Slow Delivery                                                    

            My piano teacher, Mr. Weissman,
            Who had lost a leg in the war and always wore a tie
            No matter how hot it was outside or in
            Used to yell –
            Well, yell is an exaggeration
            Because he never spoke above a raspy whisper –
            For me to play “slow as a glacier”
            When I was learning a piece
            “Otherwise,” he added with his ominous eyebrows
            Inches from my face,
            “You won’t get all the notes”
            Being from the city
            Where two trees made a park and three were countryside
            The closest I came to glaciers was ice cubes and the wish to be Cool
            But I gave it a go and the slower he tapped
            The more flustered I became until
            All I could hear from my fingers was mud
            And I couldn’t wait to go somewhere else
            To launch into the rhythm of a tune,
            Culminating points, as he used to put it, whatever they were,
            Be damned
            I thought about Mr. Weissman one day
            Years after I had given up the instrument
            When my words, the ones with heft,
            Just tumbled out at her
            Like a sudden rockslide after a softening rain
            And I felt her swerve
            I never could get the hang of a slow delivery


            Emanuel E. García, Leaf Thoughts, One Hundred Poems2013

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