Piano Lesson by Emilia Hill

17th January 1997 at 00:00

Little room, musty smell White washed wall and big brown marks Sit down on stool, Cushion sinks, dust swirls.

Chestnut piano big and bold Takes up most of the room.

Fingers on the yellow stained keys Play the wrong note.

A squeak comes soaring out. I try and try Nails clicking on the keys Clock ticks away Finally the right note speaks.

Emilia Hill

Emilia Hill, aged 11, receives Back by Midnight by John Mole (Puffin). Submitted by Susan Stanley-Carroll of Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School, London W4, who receives the Poetry Society's teachers' newsletter. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2133.

I particularly like the detail here. It shows a keen eye, a sharp ear, and there are no words wasted. The atmosphere conveyed is a familiar mixture of intimidation, nervousness (have you been practising your scales, Emilia?) and eventual relief as the "right note" speaks. How well I remember that sinking cushion from the days of my own piano lessons, and there's a neatly emphasised complicity between the clicking nails and the ticking clock. Though not mentioned, teacher's presence looms in every line, giving the poem an added dimension.

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