Grandma's Piano

Arthritic fingers rest gently on keys

recollecting long ago movements

across black and white.

Fingers stretch, knobby knuckles crack.

Brain, with tangled ganglia,

makes fingers move again.

Neuron pathways formed and since forgotten,

light up and dust off some Bach.

For a moment . . .

she remembers who she was.

Chintz curtains filtering sunlight

as she played an old upright in the parlor.

Years of smiles and tears endured,

while some Nazi told her to move or to stay.

She can see me . . .

As bumpy fingers depress keys,

eyes glaze

and she is gone again.


with ganglia which have long since betrayed her,

as Bach does now.

Fingers crank into stillness

until the next time.

All Rights Reserved/Copyright Audrey Howitt 2011

Posted for Poet's United


  1. the poems slips back and forth into sketches of time, resonanating the theme of alzheimers, nice write

    have a good Sunday

    much love...

  2. I love the moment that you sketch that allows the grandmother to momentarily visit her far off world. It is a sepia kind of poem glad you dusted it off.

  3. this is a really nice glimpse into a moment. lovely.

  4. oh heck - that is so moving - the moment she remembers and the melody is back - so tough to see her drifting again

  5. How sad for those fleeting and lost memories ~ The sounds of the piano never fails to stir something moving from me ~ Hope she can play it again ~


  6. When memories return for a moment.. those synapses deciding to act again .. what sadness -- how human..

  7. smiles....lovely and gramma had a heart attack yesterday so we have been at the hospital the last couple days with mom though was the one that played piano...and you took me back to watching her...

  8. How poignant this is. I am happy for the moments when she remembers who she is, and recalls the music........and perhaps grateful for the forgetting of those times under the Nazis. Wow. A story THERE I would love to hear!

  9. This is really touching. I hope it is true that music brings her pleasure and memories...if only for a little while at a time. Music really CAN transport a person, even when other things cannot. I really like this very real poem.

  10. I too find your poem very poignant. Music does bring back memories, but the memories you mention are not just any memories, they are your grandmother's, they are those of someone who sometimes cannot remember and whose past was partly shaped by very dramatic events.

  11. what a story this tells... daddy lost his memories... it was the simplest of things that comforted him.. hum of song... dog at his side... lovely capture here

  12. She has a colourful history behind her age & I'm glad she remembers it regardless of pain or sadness she went through in the past... This is very touching & moving poem. I enjoyed it, thank you.

    - ksm

  13. An amazing portrait of a lucid moment. Thank you, Bach. Curse you, Bach? or at least, for me, tears gush mid poem. Brilliant!

  14. I love the slowly thoughtful storytelling by ~ lyric-dramatic soprano ...? ~ then my thoughts went to the Bach's story...his cause of death...pondering now how our fates entwined..~ and sure was stretching my fingers and promise myself to practice more often... :)x

  15. Music has always been a necessity for me, so I understand, both the moment of joy and the others of sadness. Beautifully written,


  16. Until the next time... a lovely elegy to grandma. A telling piece about the author. Loving and king.

  17. What a sad moment in time, well written.


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