The Accompanist
I've always worried about you--the man or woman at the piano bench, night after night receiving only such applause as the singer allows: a warm hand please, for my accompanist. At concerts, as I watch your fingers on the keys, and how swiftly, how excellently you turn sheet music pages, track the singer's notes, cover the singer's flaws, I worry about whole lifetimes, most lifetimes lived in the shadows of reflected fame; but then the singer's voice dies and there are just your last piano notes, not resentful at all, carrying us to the end, into those heartfelt cheers that spring up in little patches from a thrilled audience like sudden wildflowers bobbing in a rain of steady clapping. And I'm on my feet, also, clapping and cheering for the singer, yes, but, I think, partially likewise for you half-turned toward us, balanced on your black bench, modest, utterly well-rehearsed, still playing the part you've made yours. Dick Allen