The Metronome

is a toy
to her—a triangular wooden box
with a secret hidden
behind a panel 

her mother keeps
her heart beating to.
She wants to know
the secret but doesn’t want to learn 

it wrong. So she watches
her mother count
to herself as her fingers
and feet 

spell out the contents
of the secret
on piano keys,
organ stops and pedals. 

She will develop a habit
of watching metronomers, believing them
to be minor deities (sometimes even full-fledged gods).
Like a good daughter, she stands in front, giving away all 

of her attention.
She dances with rhythmic abandon
to pull down a god
or two. Her mother would say she has lost 

her balance along the way. And when her mother disowns her,
she won’t realize it
till she chooses to be the meter ticking,
swinging out her own story.