Bach and My Father

Last week my dear friend Holly shared a poem she came across in Writer’s Almanac. Its simple beauty speaks for itself, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Bach and My Father
by Paul Zimmer

Six days a week my father sold shoes
To support our family through depression and war,
Nursed his wife through years of Parkinson’s,
Loved nominal cigars, manhattans, long jokes,
Never kissed me, but always shook my hand.

Once he came to visit me when a Brandenburg
Was on the stereo. He listened with care—
Brisk melodies, symmetry, civility, and passion.
When it finished, he asked to hear it again,
Moving his right hand in time. He would have
Risen to dance if he had known how.

“Beautiful,” he said when it was done,
My father, who’d never heard a Brandenburg.
Eighty years old, bent, and scuffed all over,
Just in time he said, “That’s beautiful.”

“Bach and My Father” by Paul Zimmer, from Crossing to Sunlight Revisited. © The University of Georgia Press, 2007.

If you were never curious about J.S. Bach‘s Brandenburg Concerti before, you probably are now! Here is the most famous segment of Bach’s Brandenburg Conerti–Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, First Movement:

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