My mom is playing the piano with Sidney.
I like making my bed to the music
that bubbles under my bedroom door.
Mom and Sidney are still playing piano.
I like pouring milk over my cornflakes
trying to match the tinklings that spill into the kitchen.
Now Sidney’s gone home. Mom plays just for me
and I run around in circles in the living room
and collapse on the lambskin under the piano.
I look up. I see the hardwood and pedals
of the moving hammers and strings—
the piano’s heart—when Mom plays just for me.
Copyright © 1988 April Halprin Wayland. From the book Poems for Mothers. Holiday House. Reprinted by permission of the author.
I wrote this poem for my teacher and mentor, Myra Cohn Livingston, who was compiling a book of poems about mothers. I had never had anything published before. When Myra accepted this poem, I could barely eat or sleep—I was over the moon! I almost sent out a birth announcement to all my friends about it (really!)
My mother is a classical pianist; there were always musicians in our house rehearsing with her. I loved Mozart, Shubert and Beethoven background music in my life as I did my chores. But I also loved having Mom all to myself when she played just for me. And I loved lying on our lambskin rug under the piano as she played.
April’s books include Scholastic’s Best Seller, To Rabbittown, a free-verse picture book, Knopf’s it’s Not My Turn to Look For Grandma! (recommended on PBS’s “Storytime”), the Sydney Taylor Gold Award-winner New Year at the Pier, and the multi-award-winning Girl Coming In For A Landing—an illustrated novel in poems for teens (Knopf). Her CD/MP3 of stories and poems won the National Parenting Publications Gold Medal for storytelling; her poetry appears in numerous anthologies, and she’s a seven-time recipient of SCBWI’S Magazine Merit Award for Poetry. April has taught in over 400 schools across America, in England, Italy, Germany, France and Poland. She blogs with five other children’s authors who also teach writing on TeachingAuthors.com is a founding member The Children’s Authors Network and has been an instructor with the Writers’ Program of UCLA Extension for over a decade. Her website? www.AprilWayland.com where you’ll discover she’s ½ author, ½ poet, ½ not good at fractions.
What a wonderful poem, April! I especially love the last stanza and the image of looking up into “the piano’s heart.” Brava!
Thank you, Carmilla ~ my fondest memories are looking up into the piano…
I’m thrilled you’ve come by to read my poem!
What’s the background “music” in YOUR life?
Is it the sounds of a big city outside your upstairs window, cows mooing, brothers and sisters laughing and shouting, the people upstairs stomping around, birds chirping or the quiet of the desert?
Write a poem about the background music of your life.
Oh wow. Just wow! When April writes for us.
Congratulations and thanks, April! That was just lovely!
My mom played the piano too, just for pleasure, and you brought back memories!
We’re lucky, eh, Missy?
This is so beautiful, April. I love all the concrete piano nouns and that last stanza…sigh…
Thank you, Laura. And I love YOUR poetry…those talking books simply SING!
Stunning poem, April. I love the living piano with it’s beating heart!
B.J…that’s really what it was like. Actually, what it’s STILL like. She’ll be 91 soon and she can still play up a storm!
Getting the “Myra Cohn Livingston stamp of approval” was a HUGE accomplishment. For those who don’t know, Myra had extremely selective taste and was not afraid to tell a hopeful poet (such as myself) that many things were wrong with a poem (usually “not enough music in it”). You were totally right to be “over the moon,” April! And this poem is positively OOZING with MUSIC!!!
Whatever Myra may have said way back when, Janet, your gazillion books of prose and poetry = music in my book!
[…] poetry was recently featured on United States Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt’s website, Poetryminute.org. The poem, “When Mom Plays Just for Me,” was originally published in […]
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I love “Girl Coming in for a Landing”. I. Love this poem. But usually I’m not excited about coming home. I love that book of poems! Wish I had a friend like Leslie and feel sad for Aunt Ida.