The Pianist Upstairs

By Erica Funkhouser

The world's at war and he breaks into Brahms
tonight--an intermezzo one might hum
to lull a child or coax to life numb
nerves after a round of deafening bombs.

The stairwell's dark and cold, and still I sit
and listen as the music circulates.
I don't know what to do; the day's debates
don't change a thing. We hit. They hit. We hit.

My country's ruin'd choir resounds with lies,
and still my song will only come from words.
Upstairs, a man devotes a tender hour
to teasing out sweet hidden harmonies
that populate the hallway with white birds.
How wasted here, their pure expressive power.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/08/the-pianist-upstairs/304133/