Fantasy Impromptu, a Poem

In her poem Fantasy Impromptu, Mary Jo Balistreri writes of playing Chopin on the piano as temporary relief from the pain of loneliness, envy, and longing.
Summer_Lovin_Annika_Connor oil painting of couple kissing in bed
Summer Lovin, a watercolor by Contributing Artist Annika Connor.

Poet’s Introduction: The only way I could deal with the distance within my marriage, within myself, was to practice and practice. Fantasy Impromptu is a difficult piece to play well, and it took me out of myself. I could let myself go, pour every feeling I had into the middle section, the moderato cantabile, where the key changes from C-sharp minor to D-flat major. Chopin saved me from terrible loneliness for a long time, but in the end, the marriage ended in divorce. As I look back on it, Fantasy Impromptu seems a metaphor for the marriage: the presto blur of what was happening, and the truth spelled out clearly in the middle.

Fantasy Impromptu


all elegance
lounging in the chaise
long black gown
with side slits
husband stroking
your bare leg
up and down
up and down
it was late by then
a few of us lingered
in the changing
the ice sculpture
melting in slush
you slipped off
your shoes
feet resting on
your husband’s lap
I tried to ignore
the envy
but my chest
tightened with longing
all of me ached
I wanted
what you had
understood then
why playing
the piano
for hours
each day
brought relief
but also pain
I could lose myself
in Chopin
ease the tension
out of even
my fingers
but neither the music
nor the fantasy
could replace
what was missing

Guest Poet and Writer, Mary Jo Balistreri, is the author of two books of poetry, Joy in the Morning (2008) and Gathering the Harvest (2012), both published by Bellowing Ark Press. A chapbook, Best Brothers, is due out in late August by Tiger’s Eye Press. She is one of the founding members of Grace River Poets, an outreach program of poetry for women’s shelters, churches, and schools. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals, and she is the recipient of two Pushcart nominations. Visit her at

In this video, Valentina Igoshina plays Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu, Opus 66.

Contributing Artist Annika Connor is a Contemporary Romantic painter and a Young Fellow of the Frick Collection. Her work depicts a fascination with beauty and decadence. See more of her paintings at and find her on


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