Memorial to November 5th

On Guy Fawkes day, we had no furniture
To burn. Nothing but an old piano
That we found beneath the old rock church.
We lifted it, the four of us, groaning
From the mildewed weight, and placed it in
The parking lot. Bill went for papers.
I trumped upon the keys. He was four
Tones flat in all, with some so bad,
The tune came through by rhythm only. We packed
His insides full of paper through the upright’s
Torn off top, and lit him from the warped
And molding bottom where the news was sticking
Through. The old boy smoked a bit and then
Began to warm, emitting pops and cracks
That heaved out into full blown tones. Then
He showed us what we’d done. His own internal
Symphony let loose and through the sparks
And chimney of his body boomed and twanged
The pent up soul of half a century
Of waiting for a glorious moment. Up and
Down the gamut of his harp his rending
Spirit cracked the life and rang the toll
Of what he was and could have been, and then
He settled. The wood burned to coals and then ashes
In silence with an occasional thump. Then, alone,
We walked in the silent mist, waiting
Within for the fires to leave us in darkness

—John H. Richards

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