BPM (4/11/1953 / Goondiwindi, Queensland, Australia)


I was feeling down, despondent, though I could not figure why.
Hell… perhaps it was the weather and the fact that things were dry.
It’s a soul, sapping experience when blue skies will not cease,
bringing melancholy moments, when one’s soul cannot find peace.

Then my mood was interrupted by an e-mail coming through
and I glanced down at my laptop; it was from a mate I knew.
Howard was a fellow poet whom I’d met last year in May,
who would often send me stories that someone had sent his way.

As I read the text before me I soon came to realize,
there were folk who faced much crueller tests and tears welled in my eyes.
“My full name is Mildred Hondorf and for thirty years or more
I have taught piano lessons to young children by the score.

“Though I’ve taught a lot of students who have shown ability,
there were sadly some among them who were challenged musically.
Of that number was young Robby and he had a single Mum
and the lad was now eleven … much too old I thought to come.

‘“But it’s always been my mother’s dream to hear me play, ’ he said,
and those haunting words still linger to this day within my head.
Robby had no tone or rhythm and this fact he could not hide.
He just lacked inborn ability, but still the lad he tried.

“He learnt elementary pieces and would dutifully review
all the scales I put before him, but deep down inside I knew
that the poor child showed no promise and would never learn to play,
but each week his words would echo, ‘Mum will hear me play some day.’

“Robby’s mother always smiled and waved, though did so from her car
and I’d never met her personally in any way so far.
Then one day Rob never came again, I guessed he’d just moved on,
though I must admit I felt at ease now that the lad was gone.

“He was not a good advertisement for what I was about
and then several weeks on down the track I sent some flyers out;
for I had in mind an evening, a recital, on a night
where the parents, friends and relatives could see them in full flight.

“It seems Robby too received one and he asked if he could try,
but I told him it’s impossible, he did not qualify.
You have not attended lessons, so it really wasn’t fair.
‘But my mum was sick! ’ Young Rob explained, ‘she couldn’t drive me there.’

‘“I’ve been practising Miss Hondorf and Mum wants to hear me play.’
I don’t know how he persuaded me, but Robby got his way.
He’d perform before my closer, just in case his effort died,
and that way I’d salvage self-esteem or bluntly … save my pride.

“Well the evening had gone splendidly and Rob was paged on next,
but the sight of his appearance … well, it really left me vexed.
The lad’s clothes were un-ironed, wrinkled and his hair was quite a mess
and it looked like an eggbeater had been through it I confess.

“But he sat at his piano and announced out very loud,
he would play Mozart’s Concerto in C Major for the crowd.
His small fingers danced so nimbly on the ivories that’s for sure
and I know that Mozart would have been amazed at what he saw.

“Robby ended his performance in a grand crescendo style
and the crowd just stood applauding while I had the biggest smile.
I just hugged the lad and asked him, ‘How’d you do it? Don’t be shy.’
And he spoke into the microphone and gave his proud reply.

“’Well my Mum has been real sick of late, she’d cancer in her chest,
and she passed away this morning Miss. I had to play my best.
Mum was born quite deaf you see, but prayed with all her might,
that one day she’d hear me playing and I know she heard tonight.’”

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Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me

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