OUT OF TEMPER, OUT OF TUNE
BY Jan K. Dederick, El Cerrito, CA
Piano’s out of temper, piano’s out of tune.
She clangs instead of sings, I don’t want to play with her.
Mister Tuner, his black leather bag,
long strips of red felt, dampers and fork,
will bring us together gain.
He starts in the middle, tempers the octave
expands the fourths, contracts the fifths,
like a crossword puzzle of cheating tones
so the highs and the lows will blend with the middles
when he’s done.
He seems to bang the keys, not musical at all,
and in his other hand, a funny lovely wrench,
rosewood handle, cranks the pins a tiny bit
tight, little too tight, a tiny bit looser.
I don’t know what it is he hears.
Eighty eight keys, two hundred twenty two strings,
all needing to vibrate at their own perfect speed
so the bad temper will sweeten again to beauty.
In the end it does, and it makes me wonder,
isn’t there such a craftsman
For our human relations?
Someone who knows exactly how far
to tweak each of us
to render the whole chord of us
from cacophony to harmony?
Someone who hears in each string of us
our potential for resonance?