Poem to My Younger Self

Sometimes I want to listen to something different.
Folk music. Indie pop.
And sometimes I do,
even though I have to pay attention to the words,
get caught up in any genius of the lyrics,
get distracted from whatever else is going on.

But mostly I listen to Claudia Berti and Hania Rani
on repeat for hours every day,
no lyrics to get tangled in,
just vibrant piano notes resonating,
tones filling chest,
clearing mind,
softening breath.

God, I’ve always loved the sounds
a piano makes.

Sometimes the music makes me think of
my six-year-old self who longed to learn all the notes
as well as the lady who played hymns on the old piano at church,
who would sometimes let me sit next to her on the hard wooden bench
and nod at me when it was time to turn the music page.

I would tell that younger me it’s okay she couldn’t make herself
sit long enough to really practice and never passed book four.

Sometimes music calls to mind my teenage self,
desperate to fit in, find her place, her people,
who learned to play music by chords on the keyboard
to join the youth group praise band.
Even then, always on the periphery.
Performing music, performing roles,
none of it coming naturally.

I would tell her it’s okay the group dynamics
always felt forced, through a mask, never intuitive.

I would tell her one day she’ll discover
she forms connections in a way that make
certain attention and certain relationships
feel just out of reach, near-misses, through a veil.

And I’d tell her someday she’ll discover
the way her mind can meander, swirl into being
a collage of words that connect, invoke clarity, resonate,
piano-music tapestry, woven by others,
the backdrop of her own expression.

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