ou touched this piano. Sometimes you played me awake. I would touch the
soft skin of my belly, remembering you, loving you, pretending to sleep,
watching your hair fall across your forehead as you leaned delicately into
Chopin or Scriabin. I tried to be the song.
But, the desert was just there, outside. Streaky sunlight imprisoned the
dancing dust as you played.
I hated the desert. You loved it. You loved the surprise of sudden
flowers in brief rains. Your morning music flowered the same. Starting in
silence, then clear and sure. Meant to be a promise that life was good.
You hated the snow. I loved it. Coldness on my skin gives me clarity and
purpose. I begged, but you never dared follow me barefoot.
We were unsuited. But your music could lull me into thinking that perhaps --
just perhaps -- I could stand the desert another year. Finally, the music
stopped. I watched the dust settle on my naked body, and dreamed of wind and
whiteness. You conjured the swift flood that passed over the land without a
And yet, and yet, when I hear songs you played, my body sings a little.
Especially in the morning. Especially from far away, a neighbor's radio, a
I am cold, but whole. I leave footprints when I challenge the mountain. I
hope your new love brought a piano. I hope you play her awake as the desert
unfolds to you. I hope someday you leave a footprint somewhere.
First published: August 1998