Piano Concerto Number One, Beethoven
Thin light from the corridor
seeps through the doorway, across the linoleum
to the tray table at the foot
of my white-sheeted bed. A voice up the hall
murmurs, stops, is answered by another nurse.
Shifting about to take weight
off the intravenous line, I keep
my eyes fixed on the green-lighted pulse
of the monitor at the head of the bed.
Your PVCs, she says
(premature ventricular contractions, the hiccups
of an aberrant heart that just might
attack again with sudden ferocity).
She takes my arm, fingers around the wrist.
They’re speeding up, she says,
wrinkling her brow.
Outside the high, brick facade of the music hall,
curtains of blowing snow billow and curl
around the corners of the building; cars slowing
to a crawl of headlights.
Heavy wool hats, overcoated shoulders
dusted with snow, shuffling slowly
into the hall, black shoes glistening with meltwater,
heels whitened with salt.
The chandeliers high above go dim
and the waves of his music–delicate,
fanciful almost to frivolity, then rising,
thrusting, demanding–sweep the players
and the listeners into one rounding rhythm.
Second-row violinist, young and dark,
her cheeks red,
leans forward from her chair,
mouth open, bow held straight out, captured
by the chords of the pianist–his grey hair
waving and bobbing over the keyboard.
The pulse of the music takes the hall,
pulling through the seats from proscenium arch
to the back of the balcony.
Sitting front-left box
on the dark red brocade
of my straight-backed chair, a thumb on my wrist,
I feel the mighty current of Beethoven’s river
flow to the steady, delicate
music of my heart.