Select your heroes carefully, she said,
and I rejoiced to know my shrunken world
was left outside; for here within this studio
was Boulanger, and bookstalls by the Seine,
and Canterbury where her art took on the patina
of evensong, so graced in studied nonchalance.
She could transport me there, with but a single phrase.
It was as if one could partake of home,
where that was chosen, make of it Elysium
wherein perfection lies, where newfound wisdom listens
to the stillness teaching.
I feared her, for my fingers would not follow my commands;
her piano could not sing for meóbut most of all
I feared her patience, for she had no need to dramatize
that chasm in between her chair and my disgrace.
In her cold tenderness, a shell so thin I dared not shatter it,
I also feared her love.
Forty years since her last breath, I think of her
inside that studio, an island ship festooned
in fading portraits, musty scores,
and bound for shores where poplars chant in whispers
that I had not heard before
and will not, dear teacher,
'till you open it again.