Past Times & The piano lamp
A pair of poems by Lee Triplett
A tall magnolia tree
surrounded by ancient boxwood
lives in the front yard.
I want to bring in a bloom.
So done, profound, velvet, white
petals with large, waxy, green
leaves float in a silver tray.
We set the table in fine china
around the blossom, now bringing
red and rings of gold and silver
to the dining room repast.
The sideboard is set with trays
and ceramic squares to protect it
from hot casseroles and dishes.
The meat is carved in the kitchen.
The imminence of the meal
is punctuated by the pouring
of the mint tea. The biscuits
are still in the oven.
We gather into an ancestral line
and picking up a plate choose
from the luscious buffet
favorite seasonal recipes.
Small talk, eating, and drinking
but first bring the hot biscuits
and pass the butter. Nodding
we agree, this is good.
The piano lamp
evokes an odd sadness in my chest. Long, brown steel
curved, adjustable neck, and the horizontal shade angling
over the sheet music to shed its covered light. My parents’
gift; I was fresh out of university with a piano degree.
Then, all was bright and young and full of promise and
dreams were new every day, still years from tarnishing.
No plans, a talent and a heart expectant and conflicts
about sexuality and the lessening role in the church.
How could it have painlessly worked out? The discordant
voices joined in full force with the themes changing places
daily, sometimes hourly: mother, the South, sexuality, financial
dependence, anger, bipolar moods, drinking, smoking, acute
introversion. Life was short, unstable and fragile
but something in me was tough.
That’s why I gaze at the fifty-four-year-old piano lamp sitting on
top of my piano having travelled by my side even when
there was no piano. Assessing the resolution of all that strife
included endeavoring and experimental experience. My one talent
is surrounded by an unexpected fortune: sanity, sobriety, mysticism,
creativity—a room of my own for whatever love brings. Waves
cycle over a softening interior more wiry than tough with a
mellowed maturity, comfort in an aging shell.
Gray-haired and entering my prime, after the struggle subsides there
remains what is best, which can only be seen from this vantage
point after youth. Sad naïve innocence, its going
reveals the tree bearing leaves and flourishing, twisting gently
in the wind, a shade when everything becomes too bright.
Not one moment is to be exchanged. Every blemish reveals a
greater source swelling, soaring, and sailing on into this autumn season.
Lee Triplett is a poet, voracious reader, seeker, queer and a native of South Carolina. She received a B.A. in piano performance from the University of South Carolina. Some of the poets that have influenced her are Natasha Tretheway, Louise Gluck, Sharon Olds and Ellen Bass. She has returned to writing poetry with renewed energy since her retirement from quality assurance analysis. Her poetry has been published in Amethyst Review, Mused: The BellaOnline Literary Review and is forthcoming in The Magnolia Review. She currently lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina.