Young Woman Seated (at the Virginals)
by Jennifer G. Knoblock
Daily I dress and sit, touch these keys,
nimble fingers bent to practice a song,
pray music could come from this desire
to sing out strong. What more could I desire
than to sit corseted, cosseted, pressing keys,
waiting for the world to praise my song?
Beneath silken shell a heart beats in song
while I grow old in daily habit, desire
mounting—to shatter this case and its keys.
(Why do I sit at these keys, bursting with song of desire?)
PAINTING: “A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals,” Attributed to Johannes Vermeer, c. 1670.
PHOTOGRAPH: The author practicing at the keyboard in her Illinois home, 2001.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This sedate-looking painting stirred up many thoughts—about the loneliness of practice, the societal value of a young woman’s “accomplishments” (historically and now), the need to express and share our words/songs, the struggle to make the words come out right and the frustration when reality doesn’t live up to expectation. The formality of the painting and the repetition of key words in my free-writing first draft pushed me toward the tritina form.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Knoblock writes, reads, sings, gardens, and tries to take care of her family. She has published two nonfiction books and one YA novel. Some of her poems have recently been set to music by composer Clayton J. Horath. She shares her poetry at www.gracefulpress.wordpress.com.