inspired by the accompanist's page-turner daughter and a local prodigy who broke hearts with her playing.
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Countertransference

I_

the piano man's daughter is beautiful tonight.
she turns pages and heads when father nods,
her hair a curtain to accompany the spotlight.
afterwards, in her clean hotel bed,
she will imagine anonymous hands
stroking her forehead, tempering the saltant fever
and reciting sobriquets across her skin:
she resents them and can't live without them.

tonight should be no different,
the young prodigy should still want to bore
lucent eyes into the small of her back
and attribute quickening pulses to the angle of her neck,

II_

but tonight it is a little girl
who buries her face in
the woman's velveteen dress,
cold fluttering fingers marking
the backs of her knees, saying

"you are the only one who
understands why there must
be no creases in my
white satin sunday best
and why I must summon
rain from the hands
in that foreign audience,
hands warmer and happier
than my own."

and the piano man's daughter
will deny any impuissance,
she will instead buy the girl
lemonade because she cannot
give anything but
onstage silence and, later,
temporary quietus when
she buries suddenly untalented
fingers not in the stiff wires
of a machinehead but in
the jumbled curls of the girl
who claimed jaded sangfroid.

III_

suddenly the girl knows clarity, she knows thunderstorms and the pounding of hooves.
she knows why the piano man demanded a daughter from his wife,
she knows she is only a pentimento in front of which mothers exhale their own dead dreams,

and she knows she will never enter another star chamber without
the dragoman of uncalloused fingertips burnt against the nape of her neck.

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yeah, I realize there are slashy implications. read what you will.