Practice

Mark J. Mitchell

A shirtless piano player stretches
His tendons. Soon the fingers will coax notes
From metal, ivory, wood. He may misquote
Composers, confusing rounds with catches,
Grace notes with main themes. But no one will hear.
It's a vacant room. Each hammer that falls,
Each vibrating string just sends sound off walls,
Careening through pale ghosts, until the mirrors

Break (This is all prelude. He won't begin
For hours. His muscles aren't ready). Silence
Frames sound. Black lacquer reflects fingers, keys.
He sees the music: quarter notes trapped in
Five strict lines. Touch, hearing, sight, each sense
Alert, tendons taut, to let music be.


About the Author

Mark J. Mitchell studied writing and medieval literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz with Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Robert M. Durling. His work has appeared in the anthologies Good Poems, American Places (Viking/Penguin), Line Drives (Southern Illinois University Press), Hunger Enough (Puddinghouse Press) and Zeus Seduces the Wicked Stepmother in the Saloon of the Gingerbread House (Winterhawk Press). His chapbook, Three Visitorswon the 2010 Negative Capability Press International Chapbook competition and will be published later this year. His poems have also appeared in many magazines over the last twenty years, including J Journal, kayak, Blue Unicorn, Black Bough, Santa Barbara Review, Pearl, Runes, Buddhist Poetry Review, Plainsongs, Snakeskin, Matchbook Poetry, HeyDay Magazine, Indigo Rising, Poem and Lowestoft Chronicle.