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This poem is taken from PN Review 253, Volume 46 Number 5, May - June 2020.

The Piano Tuner’s Cough Gerard Woodward
The tuner of our piano is making his final call,
And I am here to watch him work. His jacket’s
Off and hanging from a chair. His sleeves
Are rolled like two white life-rings round each arm,
And in this way he strikes me as a working man –
A gardener come to tackle our wilderness,
A plumber trying to sort our drainage out.
He plays one note, then turns the tuning pin.
The piano is opened up, its strings exposed,
As if prepared for surgery, or strapped
To a chair, gagged or drugged or blacked out
Or fully conscious but with shredded nerves,
Like my mother at the dentist when her last few teeth
Were pulled, half cut with drink that made it
All the worse when her china-thin and sooted
Lower incisors snapped. He plays one note –

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