PEACEMAKER FAMILY POEM: The piano in Barrancabermeja

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CPTnet
13 January 2013
PEACEMAKER FAMILY POEM: The piano in Barrancabermeja

The following poem by Becca
Lachman, partner of former CPT reservist Michael Lachman (term finished in 2010)
is published here with her permission. 


The piano in Barrancabermeja

There
is one public piano in Barrancabermeja, and my composer
husband has never seen it. On our one-year anniversary, he swears
he will eat cake with his too-sweet Colombian coffee. He swears to
love me more than other things that ask for his return:
scrubby, gray-green jungle or paramilitary youth
with gold-capped molars, the dirty waters of Rio Magdalena.

Peace
needs husbands from everywhere, even
boys from coal country, even composers. Midst the gunfire
and missing, mine wants to get in the way, to give as much
to beat-up ploughshares as soldiers give to battle. He learns
not to flinch. He shines up his Spanish, learns to shout,
“I’m watching!” the way a Colombian would say it
to the eyes in the forest or the planes that drop
their fire onto fields.

I
will be here that anniversary, in July’s hot mouth with my own
cake heart, wanting the sound of his heels keeping the beat
upstairs, his music spouting from splayed-open fingers.

Barrancabermeja’s
piano has a legend
like this: once a year, two chosen hands reach out
to sing an audience silent. Its ivory keys become the words
that form a single sentence, different for each member
in the crowd. Some hear, “There’s no forgiveness” when
the music’s finally opened. Others are given, “I should have
had more sons” at the end of a lilting cadence. “Where she is,
she can hear this” hovers over one woman sitting in the back,
just when crescendos shake through wooden floorboards.

For
the rest of the year, the Steinway waits in the city library’s
tired belly. Alleyway salsa or vallenato
must rock
Barranca back to sleep. And the green rushes up
in the country. And the river valleys glow. Familias
run, petroleum
shifts, and red clay is packed deep into the ground, earth you claim
looks so much like ours. Here, where you raised two beds
before leaving for raspberries. Here, where I will drink
my morning tea, then lie on your side of the covers, our bed
like the top of an unopened grand playing out, “Come home.
Come home.”

-from
Becca Lachman, The Apple Speaks,Cascadia Publishing
House, LLC, 2012 (dedicated “to the humanitarian workers
around the globe, but more for the families who love them”)

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