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A Cup of Tea (or Three), for Eleanor Sokoloff


I. The Forgetting


Late for rehearsal, you forget your score. 

Shakespeare class: come, gone. Waking alarm-less

at noon. That roommate up all night, who snores.

Harmony. Heartaches. Counterpoint. Your first-year crush


on the opera lead. That broken string.

You learn the heart's an instrument that sings.


II. The Remembering


All week in the practice room, you wait, you wait

for Wednesday. They've told you she's legend:

smarter than smart, famous woman with a hat.

Fabulous teacher. Fabulous hat. Strict, warm.


She listens, makes you feel important, unique;

but don't believe me, go meet her at tea.


III. The Indelible


Time, at Curtis, a question: how to begin.

You grasp the door; you memorize its weight

handle-etched with clarinet, violin.

You dodge class, rehearsal, not to be late.


For four more years (or more) time stops at three,

when someone asks your preference for tea.


Her hands soften sounds of chatter, clatter

of cups, spoons. Each word, joke, anecdote she loves,

you've re-played like a score.  You think of hats.

She cares about your love-life (or lack thereof).


She keeps watch in hours dark and light, and soon

you find each piano's an uncommon room. 


Her samovar brims with eternity;

no wonder you savor time with her at tea.


Commissioned by Curtis Institute of Music


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