A grand piano wrapped in quilted pads by movers, tied up
with canvas straps—like classical music’s birthday gift
to the criminally insane—is gently nudged without its legs
out an eighth-floor window on 62nd street.

It dangles in April air from the neck of the movers’ crane,
Chopin-shiny black lacquer squares and dirty white crisscross
patterns hanging like the second-to-last note of a concerto
played on the edge of the seat, the edge of tears, the edge
of eight stories up going over—it's a piano being pushed
out of a window and lowered down onto a flatbed truck!—
and I’m trying to teach math in the building across the street.

Who can teach when there are such lessons to be learned?
All the greatest common factors are delivered by long-necked cranes
and flatbed trucks or come through everything, even air. Like snow.

See, snow falls for the first time every year, and every year
my students rush to the window as if snow were more interesting
than math, which, of course, it is.

So please.

Let me teach like a Steinway,
spinning slowly in April air,
so almost-falling, so hinderingly
dangling from the neck of the movers’ crane.
So on the edge of losing everything.

Let me teach like the first snow, falling.

  • Taylor Mali, "Undivided attention" from What Learning Leaves. Copyright © 2002 by Taylor Mali.  Reprinted by permission of Write Bloody Publishing.
     

  • Source: What Learning Leaves (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013)

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