The Keys of the Piano

The Keys of the Piano
Kim Goldberg

The keys of the piano at the annual
extinction concert were built from bones
of vanished species—each pallid slab
a different absence in the ravelling
weft. And the people wept

as the unholy keen rose
from the cliffside amphitheatre slicing
the summer sky above the sea, clashing
chords formulated by features of
mineral density rather than
scalar math, battling the crash
of wave, the wail of gull, a thunder of
harmonics too ecstatic or demonic
to withstand. It began with a rat

back in 2016. The mosaic-
tailed rat endemic to Bramble Cay
in the Great Barrier Reef: declared the first
mammalian casualty of climate change.
And the people blinked

but recovered. Just a rat
on a small coral island barely above
sea level. Who can understand the genius
of a mind that sees music and immortality
in a cadaver? As a grad student, she flew

to Papua New Guinea and hired a boat
to collect a satchel of remains that became
the first key in the first piano in the first
annual extinction concert all those years
ago. Tonight beside the sea

spray of salt upon her aging cheek
co-mingling with greying hair, ancient
reverberations, tonal beats on an evolutionary
scale, pale skeletons defying time, space
the slow descent of civilization.

* * *

“The Keys of the Piano” first appeared in the international climate poetry anthology A Change in Climate, released December 11, 2017.  The book is available for purchase via Amazon UK.

Print edition: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1973376547
Kindle edition: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Change-Climate-Sam-Illingworth-ebook/dp/B0784S5SMG/

For this anthology, poems on climate change were submitted from around the world, and 20 were chosen for the book. All profits from this book will be used to support the Environmental Justice Foundation, who investigate and expose environmental and human rights abuses through film and photography. By purchasing this book, you are helping to support their Climate Campaign, which is centred on fighting for the rights of climate refugees.

About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is an award-winning poet and journalist and the author of 7 books. Latest titles: UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact: goldberg@ncf.ca
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4 Responses to The Keys of the Piano

  1. Jane Covernton says:

    Good one. Thanks for sending.

    http://www.janecovernton.com

  2. Great, if tragic, metaphor.

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