10-Line Tuesday

May 1, 2018

my nephew, the pianist

Is there anything more magnificent than an 11-year-boy playing Hava Nagila?
My father, were he still alive, would have been glued, like all of us, to Eli’s face,
transfigured as it was by the notes and the lineage from which they fell. Afterward,
he would have clapped his hands in the raucous glee of the near-possessed. I tried
to stay composed until the closing bars, but I was already undone from the start,
straddling the seesaw pitch of past and present, wishing Dad
were there to listen, and imagining this was him, square at the bench,
tipped slightly toward the keys. My sister, having already heard the performance,
knew exactly why I had to turn away, my heart pinched between the fingers
of grief and gratitude, my whole body broken into song.