I sold my soul to a black-and-white behemoth
with two accomplices – grey-haired ladies in floral prints – when
I was only four years old.
It happened quite by accident; no one had told me that just
Meant permanent bondage.
I ran and ran, but I could
never hide. He sought me out, and dragged me from underneath my bed
And sat me down on a black slab in his kingdom and forced me to remain
Until my fingers were tired and my neck was sore and my back ached,
But he was never satisfied.
I had to be soft and quiet
Delicate even as frustration bubbled hotly within my gut
sensitive to the feelings and meanings of ancient scribes I would never even know
“Like a flowing river.” “Like a butterfly.” “Like a lullaby.”
It took a long time for me to realize that I had to be these things
before I could play them.
I had to be quick and loud
fingers like tiny mallets in precise time
Lethargy and hesitation severely punished with the harshest
sounds of discord, dissonance, disharmony
only perfection was acceptable.
The unforgiving patterns of black and white were always the same –
strict; severe; beautiful.
He taught me to dance without legs;
taking my hands and making them waltz
I didn’t need feet to run;
he carried me across countries and centuries and civilizations
without ever leaving that hard black slab.
He taught me to speak without words;
expressing emotions in purest form – without syntax;
yet perfectly eloquent.
There was a way to show
that I was angry because my parents were irrational;
that I was sad because my favorite grandfather was no more;
that I was happy because I’d fallen in love;
and each emotion sounded beautiful
in its own right.
It didn’t get easier over time.
Sometimes he tricked me into believing that it did;
made me think that I was good, or good enough
made me confident, cocky, conceited
fingers flying high with just the right amount of passion and strength.
Then he would tear me down.
Show me how good his previous captives had been;
throw me pages and pages of notes until my eyes gave up, my fingers gave out,
my mind gave in.
It only got harder
That’s why I had to keep coming back.
If this were an article printed in the newspaper
Or a piece on the Sunday evening news
About the girl who was captured by a musical demon
and lived to tell about it,
It would end with a cautionary note,
maybe some tips on how to avoid a similar fate;
A dramatic warning to keep your kids locked up
don’t let them touch that strange black monster
tempting as it might seem.
There is a lesson here,
but not the one you expect.
The only piece of advice I can give is to do
what I did.
When I was four years old, I sold my soul
to a black-and-white behemoth in the corner of my living room.
It was the best thing I ever did.