What Peter Nero Said

We shall play ‘Tea for Two’ – my right hand will be playing ‘Tea for Two’ while my left hand will play Tchaikovsky’s Fifth.

Maybe Nero was right about our potential to multi-task,
to manage our hands and feet, appendages
accessing parallel rhythms, much as we daily
do, our talking to friends, while making mental notes
of what to make for dinner, our listening over
Zoom while rearranging our desk and checking our calendar.

My left foot will be fiercely tapping out the traditional rhythm to the Tahitian fertility dance.

Wasn’t it that way early on, when I’d look at my suitor,
my quaint wishful appellation for my Saturday night date,
wondering when he might pop the question.
Or when I repeated my wedding vows,
with a train of thoughts longer than my bridal veil,
wondering whether I’d done the right thing.

My right foot will not be doing too much. It will just be excited.

Or when I, again unattached, my euphemism for
divorced, queued up in movie lines,
imagining the partner who might appear to watch
the matinee with me, imaginary conversations floating from
my right brain to my left, my shifting from one foot to the other,
hoping to project anticipation, not loneliness.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the many ways
I’ve been a one-man band, a one-woman show,
multi-tracking, mixing, synchronizing my many lyrics,
life’s layered conversations,
me, a multi-instrumentalist, conducting so many vocals,
covering so much territory, wondering whether
there’s more ground to cover or has the illusion
finally faded, tired of trying to hold it all together.

About the Poem

Peter Nero’s ability to play different tunes and rhythms with his hands and feet reminded me of what I sometimes ‘think’ I can do, and ultimately may not be able to do well at all -‘multi-task’ – and it’s that sense of our generation’s distractability that I wanted to explore – hopefully leaving the reader with a sense of one woman’s acceptance of what she can do well, and what is only an illusion she’s creating.

About the Author

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston and resides in California –both coasts inform her writing. A graduate of Wellesley, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins. A retired educator, she continues to savor life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and understand. Publications include Boston Accent, NewVerse News, Topical Poetry, DoubleSpeak, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories, Journal of Expressive Writing, and her book, Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilbriums. Her poem “Confessions of a Non-Swimmer”, garnered 1st place in S.J.Jose Public Library’s 2023 Spring into Poetry contest.

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