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The Family Piano

—for Ronald “Ron” Buckalew, PhD

Your story begins at the family piano – a formal portrait
Ralph, still a young man, not yet your father,
serious and proud in his army uniform – his brother Howard,
sisters Mary and Willa, and their parents all gathered at the piano
They owned an antique and book shop on King Street in Wilmington,
the sound of the piano, the music and singing underpinning
an enjoyable life

Ralph married Margarite, your mother; they had four girls, 
My wonderful sisters, you tell me – in 1935 you were born, the only son
Ralph became an electrician at the Pennsylvania Railroad
Your mother tended the family, rode the train to go shopping in Philly
                                                       and back home to Wilmington

The day the war started in 1941, I got my dog, Sarge
A hound and a good buddy
, you say
Sarge is still a part of your active and growing family,
the birthdays, celebrations and singing 

You excelled in school – a true Renaissance man. You loved books,
reading and writing, football, track, theatre, music, language and facts, 
and became class president – your proudest moment
On to college and grad school, the study of Linguistics
In Anglo-Saxon class, you met Evelyn, your perfect match
You had Dana and Stephen, your own children,
and at Penn State, your own students to teach 
Now four wonderful granddaughters echo your four sisters

All around you now, your family portraits, familiar faces
It feels like they’re all right here with me
Gathered at the old piano

©2022 by Barbara Campbell