124 | LAPHAM’S QUARTERLY
whole notes sank through her body like clear
pebbles. His atmospheric trills were the flicker
of a tongue. His pauses before the downward
sweep of notes nearly drove her insane.
The Mother Superior knew something
had to be done when she herself woke, face
bathed with sweat and tears, to the insinuating
soft largo of the Prelude in E Minor. In those
notes she remembered the death of her mother
and sank into the endless afternoon of her loss.
The Mother Superior then grew, in her heart, a
weed of rage all day against the God who took
a mother from a seven-year-old child whose
world she was, entirely, without question—
heart, arms, guidance, soul—until by evening
she felt fury steaming from the hot marrow of
her bones and stopped herself.
Oh God, forgive me, the Superior prayed.
She considered humunculation, but then rushed
down to the piano room, and with all of the
strength in her wide old arms, gathered and hid
from Cecilia every piece of music but the Bach.
After that, for some weeks, there was re-
lief. Sister Cecilia turned to the TwoPart In
ventions. Her fingers moved on the keys with
an insect precision. She played each as though
Improvisation No. 29 (The Swan), by Vasily Kandinsky, 1912.