Photo by Anastasia Kolchina (Pexels)

Please Do Not Touch or Play the Piano. Thank You, Management

Ecem Yucel

It’s not so much that we are worried about

the sticky fingerprints on the smooth, polished,

beautiful black surface, on which you can see

a darker yet classier reflection of yourself

nor the possibility of it slightly slipping

out of tune every time a lay individual presses

on the ivory keys in a rough manner — because what is

the yearly cost of tuning a grand piano every month?

Around the price of a kidney in black market?

We are not too worried about it being broken

by a teenager on the bigger side either, who claims

he’s angry at the world, at the system, the rich,

the corruption, the greed, and listens to dark metal

as if horribly hoarse, meaningless screams can be

religion — when he’s obviously angry at his parents,

for no good reason, not to mention a little horny —

nor we are worried about hearing a headache

inducing ruckus all day, created by the passersby

randomly punching the keys, with the frustration etched

in their souls and the envious desire to destroy

every good/elegant/alluring thing they come across,

their noise a rendering of their unvoiced inner chaos.

No, what we are really worried about is your touch

being lonely, even when you are with someone,

forcing a smile, pretending to have a good time,

repeating in your mind, what’s there not to be

grateful, feel normal, act content, cry inward?

Because our piano is cursed, you see, there was

a time it belonged to a lonesome pianist, who wrote

songs to imbibe the happiness of the audience,

to leave them all empty shells. What the pianist

didn’t know was that his audience had already

been empty. When he died, he haunted his piano,

as an act of revenge, to absorb the lonely yet faking,

forever trapping them inside with him. Their touch is their ID.

Like fingerprints. You don’t believe it? Even in a world

where dictators consult their fortune tellers before going

to war to kill thousands, and artists read their astrological

charts till they go cross-eyed before launching a new album?

Still not buying it? Well, please don’t fucking touch

the piano either way. You never know.

Ecem Yucel (she/her) is an Ottawa-based Turkish-Canadian poet, writer, translator, and interpreter. She holds an MA in World Literatures and Cultures from the University of Ottawa and currently works as a cultural interpreter. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Evergreen Review, Salamander Magazine, HAD, Maudlin House, Overheard, Stanchion, Autofocus, Gone Lawn, Idle Ink, and more. Find her at  

X/Twitter: @TheEcemYucel

Instagram: @the.ecem.yucel