Her practiced fingers stroke the well-worn keys—
A simple melody with simple ease—
Then reach for fifths to fill the pattern’s run
Alone. No rush. There’s no one else to please:
No judge, no jury, no race to be won.
So she slows—settles to a mournful pace
Reminding her of all the pain it took
To get her here: the lines she had to trace
To rise above and toss away the book
Alone. No rush. There’s no one else to please
And that’s enough. She sets her music’s sun
And beauty echoes from her hard-earned grace…
But sly shadows steal an embarrassed look.
July 21st, 2010 at 17:01
The painting is from the Shadowscapes Tarot deck by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. I followed her progress on deviantart for YEARS waiting for it to come out. The wait was worth it. It’s a lovely deck, and Stephanie was kind enough to grant me permission to post pictures of the cards along with my poems.
The short story of this poem:
I woke up today without a poem to post and decided to use a tarot card from Shadowscapes for inspiration. I hadn’t used the deck yet, so I over-shuffled it and drew my first card: the Nine of Pentacles. I’ve always relied on the pictures from my Rider-Waite deck to remind me of meanings, so I wasn’t quite sure of everything the card had to offer. I checked a few online definitions (including Stephanie’s) and they all pointed to the spiritual positively affecting a person’s life materially. The piano player, in Shadowscapes, is therefore proud of her success and abilities but acknowledges all the hard work she had to do to get them.
Stephanie mentions that the snail shell seat and spirals in the trees are based on the golden ratio, so I used that as my form for the poem. The golden ratio spirals outward infinitely: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc. In my poem I used 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. The poem is 13 lines long divided into three main sections: the first couplet, the next 3 lines interlocked with the couplet (equalling 5), and the final 8. The first half of the final octave is an elegiac stanza (alternating rhyme scheme) and the last half uses the 4 rhymes from the whole poem. The first and last lines are “golden lines”, which means that the lines mirror themselves grammatically: modifier-noun verb modifier-noun. The line beginning with “Alone” is the fourth and is repeated as the fourth to last. The rhyme scheme is, therefore, aa bab cdcdabcd.
I’m explaining all of this to answer to the woman’s embarrassed look to the shadows at the end of the poem. She is self-confident and proud of her abilities honed over years of practice (like a morning runner, or anyone who enjoys talents they cultivated for themselves with ambition), but she looks to the shadows at the end and is embarrassed. Is she embarrassed in case someone else heard her play? Or is she embarrassed at herself for even caring? Up to you.
But because I am posting this publically and assuming an (albeit modest) audience, I want that audience to know what kind of work I put into my poems. I like them, but I want others to like them too…or at least acknowledge my hard work!
Shadowscapes Tarot is here: http://www.shadowscapes.com
July 21st, 2010 at 22:07
Just love the poem and the imagery enhanced by your comments.
August 3rd, 2010 at 20:46
I’m glad they were helpful!
July 22nd, 2010 at 19:21
it’s so beautiful! the card, and the poem- both of all!! 🙂
I feel like seeing a whole beautiful picture~!
August 3rd, 2010 at 20:48
Especially the card! I haven’t gotten used to the deck yet, but I’ll use it for more poems once I’m settled in Halifax. Are you still using the same deck?
August 3rd, 2010 at 21:42
good question. why do people make art? to please others? to please oneself? or maybe it’s an uncontrollable compulsion, like lust or anger or joy, pleasing whoever guiltily cares for it.
what about the works of some tormented souls, the ones who compose wicked books and grotesque paintings? their works are like revenge on a society that does not understand them. their art is a punishment. sometimes i think i am in their ranks.
to quote a character from my novel:
“some of us possess beauty, some of us have power, or wealth, or intelligence, or favourable social connections, or something else of such value; the others possess the oft overlooked creative talent to exact horrid vengeances for having none of these.”