“Be glad you don’t have to count beans.”
Yes—I am glad I am no Tarrega.
The man would play no faster
until 10 coffee beans, all in a
pile on the left side of his music,
were moved, one by one, to the right side.
Each unroasted morsel was one phrase
—the same phrase—
played with perfection, the gradual motion
to the right, one continuous grind.
But if in that barist-atic stream, that same phrase,
in one instance, were plucked
short of its time—its tone not bright or
sharp enough (for his taste)—each in-di-vid-u-al bean
in his successful right pile—whether there were 1, 5, or 9—
would be picked, lifted,
craned back to the left. Such dedication,
to the day you die, would grind you to the bone.
Yet, for what it’s worth,
I can imagine
his hands wrinkled and raw like
a dried summer plum, glissing to every fret,
each calloused finger lingering there until the note was ripe.
Yes: they—he and his beans—must have worked
Everyday until sundown.
And what a harvest they must have
made of their precise practice.
But yes—I am glad I am no Tarrega
as I play his music
under the direction of my teacher.
Everything is molto staccato, mol-to- sta-ca-to
to a T. I sweat between ledger lines tilled like earth,
reaping beneath the sun, the sun and I looped in
midday, moving at half the value of half
the value of half the value of the original pulse. I
at his command, anticipating each mus-
ical moment. Yes—I am glad I am no Tarrega.
I am a laborer; my harvest is not
my own. My teacher counts the beans.