Victor Borge and the Player Piano

One day when we lived on Oak
my father came home with a white piano
big and heavy as a horse that had
two large pedals under its keys which
if you placed a paper roll called Lady of Spain
between two spindles behind a sliding door
above the keys like a wood block in a lathe
and pumped with both feet the avatar
of Victor Borge would come and sit and play
blacks and ivories (some like bad teeth)
succumbing to the ghosts of his hands
as you watched ascending and descending
perforations in the roll’s paper
pass over the horizontal row of holes
in the smooth brass bar at eye level
like flocks of geese coming and going
the pattern of perforations sliding from
top roll to bottom orchestrating the piano’s
robot rendition of Lady of Spain
while Borge slap-sticked and cracked-wise
seated right where you sat
your fingers floating over the keys
performing furious air arpeggios until you
dropped off the end of your seat to the floor
pretending to be that slapstick funny man
with fingers as facile
in the adult manner of a brilliant
Danish clown

by Jim Culleny
Feb 22  2010

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