By Nykki Norlander
is in the attic, large windows face the moon
and his hands itch, his body creaks
like the stairs as he climbs them.
Bookcases line the opposite wall
of the piano. When he can glimpse
the middle shelf, he knows he made it.
His knee stiffens and
he grips the railing,
tempted to call out for
his granddaughter, Macy.
but the words catch in his throat like tears.
Once there, he closes his eyes
and plays like Beethoven
or so Macy used to say.
The music melts into him
the wrinkles in his face smoothen,
he loses a few years
and his wife’s’ green eyes
and piano key smile
flash before him.
Grandma is gone, Macy cried
a few days after Diana’s funeral when he argued
to bring the piano back to the living room.
You can’t play.
At night, he turns his pain
into melodies, high and low,
notes that don’t need paper. Only keys,
the same keys that unlock her.
He remembers when Diana was still alive
and Macy was young,
she would crawl into his lap,
while he played. He would lean forward
and tickle her with his white beard,
and she would giggle and look up at him
with eyes like stars.
Similar stars that he glances at every night.
Now, the stairs groan
and he opens his eyes to see
Macy standing before him.
Her sad brown eyes belong to a woman
who can’t let go.
He can’t speak. His hands burn.
She rolls up her sleeves
and sits beside him.
Play, she whispers so quietly he
turns up his hearing aids.
His hands tingle like the first time
he played for Diana.
He whispers Thank you.
Although he is not sure
who he’s talking to.
He plays the words, I Miss Her Too,
from a song he composed,
and performed at the funeral years ago.
He glances at her
and the soft smile that she gives him,
and the light in her eyes
belongs to a woman
who wants to unlock everything.