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The Poetry Box®

The Widow at the Piano

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The Widow at the Piano

by Sue Fagalde Lick

The aging woman playing the piano at church may look saintly, but her mind is busy wondering things like what€™s under the priest€™s robes and why Jesus didn€™t invite the women to join him. Also, when someone faints in the Communion line, should she keep playing? All the while, she is playing, singing, and directing the choir, hoping that she€™s on the same verse as everyone else. The Widow at the Piano takes readers on a journey through the distracted mind of the music minister who has recently lost her husband to Alzheimer€™s disease and whose only nearby family is the church family at Sacred Heart Church in Newport, Oregon. These poems look at the challenges of leading small church choirs, traditional vs. modern church music, the role of women ministers in the male-dominated Catholic Church, faith vs. practical concerns, and life behind the scenes at Mass, with an honest blend of reverence and irreverence from a writer who has always felt not quite Catholic enough.


About the Author

Author Photo: Sue Fagalde Lick

Having escaped the newspaper business in Silicon Valley, Sue Fagalde Lick now lives on the Oregon coast, where she writes, does the singer-songwriter thing, walks her dog, and talks to herself. Her day job€”until her pastor reads this book and excommunicates her€”is directing the church choir at Sacred Heart Church in Newport. This job requires her to play the piano, sing, and direct the choir at the same time, so God should forgive a few wrong notes.

A native San Josean who earned a degree in journalism so she could make a living, she earned her MFA in creative writing at Antioch University at the age of 51. Sue has published her poetry and prose in various literary journals and come in second in more contests than she can count. Her previous books of prose include Stories Grandma Never Told: Portuguese Women in California, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Last year, she published her first poetry chapbook, Gravel Road Ahead, which tells the story of her journey with her late husband Fred through Alzheimer€™s disease. She blogs at and Visit her website at



Advance Praise

This beautiful, searching collection brims with charm and honesty, with humor and heartache and heart. I€™d listen to any song The Widow at the Piano wants to play.

~ Gayle Brandeis, author of Many Restless Concerns
and The Selfless Bliss of the Body

There is both genuine faith and wrestling with faith in this book. The vivid description of the interior of a formal Catholic church, the homeliness of its details and the description of the interaction with the other congregants shows that for Sue Lick the church is a home and family, a home which allows her to open and practice her most devotional channel, music. And the music can lead to the feeling of God flowing through her hands.

~ Barbara LaMorticella, co-editor of Portland Lights
host of Talking Earth poetry show (KBOO FM)

The Widow at the Piano had me at the lines, €œIf Jesus Came To My Door/I€™d say Excuse the mess/and He would.€