The Piano

I've been reading The Bone People which Karl got for me because it's about "an artist estranged from her art" and because there are beautiful drawings of hands on the cover.

It takes place in New Zealand, and there's a boy of mysterious origins who doesn't talk and no one knows why. This reminded me of the movie The Piano, which I had forgotten about in my search for stories of injured hands.

It was the first art house movie I saw in college. I was totally taken in by its grey moodiness and images like a piano left alone on a beach. In the final scenes Sam Neill chops off the finger of Holly Hunter, his mute, piano playing, mail-order wife, for cheating on him. Then she almost drowns when her foot is caught in a rope attached to her sinking piano. I'd never seen anything that was at once so horrible and beautiful at the same time. It was confusing and disturbing, but I loved that feeling. Even though I could barely watch it. A lot of people left the theater. I wanted to but couldn't.

But then, she does not drown. She escapes, and in the end she is dry and serene, at a piano with a silver finger replacing her lost one, which clicks softly every now and then as she slowly plays the keys. It was an unforgettable moment, and I was extremely sad for the people who had left.

I only realize now that The Piano is a retelling of The Handless Maiden, one of my all time favorite folk tales, used in Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes who I saw speak around the same time. Why I never noticed that before I can't think, and how I came to take an injury that mirrors this makes me suspicious.

I couldn't find a still of that scene, so I drew it as best I could remember.