Baroness Dorothea Ertmann
Was a student of Beethoven.
Like him, she loved the piano.
The only thing more important to her
Was her frail, young son,
With his small hands
And thin fingers.
When he died of the fever
She moved into silence
As though it were a room in her house.
She did not weep; she made no sound.
She sat stiff-backed at her piano,
But would not touch the keys.
A note arrived after a week;
Would she come to Beethoven’s house
That he might express his condolences?
She went to be polite;
He was waiting seated at his piano.
He did not speak.
He started softly playing his instrument.
She listened respectfully, but unmoved.
After an unmeasured amount of time,
His chords became louder
Growing less melodic and
More feverish, discordant, angry notes,
Unpleasant, but not out of place.
His energy was unrelenting.
Then, a surprise like finding a daffodil in winter,
His playing became tender,
Gentle and soothing;
A melodic movement that seeped slyly
Through a crack in her soul.
Her breathing became arrhythmic.
She quietly began to cry;
A measure later, her whole body sobbed.
The music took her far away
And then, brought her home.
They had been engaged nearly an hour,
He had said not a word,
But she understood everything.
She stood up,
He turned toward her and took her hand;
She felt his long, obedient fingers
She went home