From the Archives: “Spring Recital, Beethoven Club, Memphis, Tenn.” by Bobby C. Rogers

August 10, 2012

This week we’ve been rereading Bobby C. Rogers’ Paper Anniversary (U of Pittsburgh P, 2010) and letting that long line of his bowl us over. Rogers is professor of English at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. His poems have appeared in the Southern Review, the Georgia Review, Image, Shenandoah, Puerto del Sol, and numerous other magazines. He is also the recipient of the Greensboro Review Literary Prize in Poetry. His “Spring Recital” was first published in the Fall 2009 issue (7.2) of 32 Poems.

Spring Recital, Beethoven Club, Memphis, Tenn.

After all the practice, the children in turn mount the two steps of the riser,
       jaws set, their Sunday clothes,
new for Easter or just new, making a detectable wrinkling sound as they
       compose themselves at the keyboard and unfold

their repertoire books to the marked page, take a deep breath and strike the
       opening notes of undanceable mazurkas
and poorly studied études. Hard to add up all that’s been learned just from
       looking at a room like this, most of it

having to do with fear. The first week in May and the air conditioner already
       strains, the kids sweating at the Baldwin grand—
of the pair of pianos, the one with the easier action and bright tone. From
       our place in the crooked rows of folding chairs, we just hope

the pictures turn out. And then there it is, the architecture of a Bach
       invention, the lines of development,
the counterpoint of the piece emerging uncorrupted by technique or facility,
       suddenly readable against struggle’s bright foil.

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