The Piano Tuner’s Eulogy

Cameron Morse


Charles Friend drags the dusting brush
of his vacuum cleaner over the tuning pins
below the lid of Grandma’s baby grand, 
the 1929 Wurlitzer in which dust
collects like ash from the smokestack 

of a crematorium. He pulls back
on the tennis ball handle of his tuning
wrench, like he’s changing gears in a stick
shift with one hand while pounding
the same key with the other. 

               On the day that
the moving van carrying her baby
grand turned onto our cul-de-sac, Grandma
told the driver he had the wrong address, 
he should take it back to Independence. 

               Mr. Friend says
every piano has a memory, its own unique set
of overtones.
Grandma could not remember
burning the bacon or pouring her husband bowls
of chicken soup congealed over weeks 

on the stovetop. She forgot about driving the wrong
way down I-70, but I remember her liver-spotted
hands on the keys, playing “My Way” 
until the sheets vanished, and then the notes. 
               And the lyrics.   


Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, he is currently a third-year MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 50 different magazines, including New Letters, pamplemousse, Fourth & Sycamore and TYPO. His first collection, Fall Risk, is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press.

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