William Plays the Piano

He practices sitting on a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, which is a fat book, and provides Height. He sits on this, and it on the piano bench, and he doesn’t seem to think of this as amusing, or strange, or, even, something he will outgrow.

The book provides the height he needs to get a good angle at the keyboard, and I watch him from the angle of the couch, which gives me a direct profile, and a good view of the way his toes just touch the floor, curled under, curled up inside Spiderman socks.

He is intent and focused. He knows that I am there in the way that children need to know their parents are there. But he does not, currently, need me. I have noticed, in fact, that he needs me less and less.

He is looking at his music. He is looking at his hands. He is wearing jeans with holes in the knees because that is all he has at the moment. I doubt he knows what he is wearing. I think he is one of those boys who forgets, shortly after dressing, what it is he has on.

He is playing two notes with his right hand and one with his left. I studied piano for three years and I don’t think I got to that until the third year, but he has picked it up just fine.

I remember taking piano lessons. I remember it quite clearly. I remember my mother calling to me from the kitchen, “Sounds good,” or some other Encouraging Thing. I tell William he sounds good and he smirks, turning away from the music just long enough to inform me that I am “just saying that.”

I am not just saying that. He really does sound good, and he has only been taking lessons for a few months. Now he has returned to his music, practicing something that involves the pedals and Tremendous Sound.

He is concentrating. He does not know that I am there. Or maybe he does, in that way that I am always there: around, nearby, doing something, available. But I am keenly aware that he is there, in that impermanent way of his: always growing, quietly growing, steadily growing up.

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