I have a friend who doesn't believe in music.
Admittedly I must seem rather strange
to him, waking every sunrise to bow
over eighty-eight black and white lines
in the hopes that I might offer up my soul
to a crowd of strangers from the stage.

When I tell him I devote my life to this faith,
he says I shut my eyes to reality,
that nothing else explains this aversion
to facing the physical. He says I'm the child
who buries her head in his pillow in defiance
of the world, the child who tells herself
that she will never grow up.

Often he urges me to wake up
an adult like himself, a courageous person.
He tries to be patient, pats me on the back
for my discipline, my talent, but his smile
hardly reaches his eyes. He sighs as
my back arches over the wood, and finally
in a rare moment of openness,
he slams his fist into the keys and flips
the bench on its side.

Leaping to my feet, I stepped back
and asked what made him try to hurt
the music, for once thankful that it
could not be touched. He demanded
to know why the music spoke so purely
beneath my fingertips when it only
met his with meaningless noise, despite
a similar childhood of reverent practice.

I still cannot answer him.
Instead I wept, and in that way
he is right to call me a child,
unable to grasp beyond that
the music tells me. To this day,
it makes me pause, hands
a trembling shadow over the keys.
It may take me a lifetime
to trust them again.