Time, Signature

When I was small, my grandmother, who taught piano, told me someday I would learn to “read” music; I was astonished! What ogres, what emperors, what gingerbread, what coffins of glass? Perched on five telephone wires, birds noted their gibberish, like an unspooled Phaistos disk. When grown-ups crescendo-ed overhead, when discords tensed for the felted hammer, I went pianissimo, and hid, dampened, beneath the black-lacquered forte, my fort. Silence was a box of rest, like stale licorice. If only I had the clef to the cryptic grammar! Every girl, bored, dreams fairytales. Arching its monobrow, the supercilious fermata suspended disbelief. When, later, I learned that the only thing written in music was music, imagine my disappointment, my relief.

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