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Grand Coincidence

After meeting the famed poet Stanley Kunitz in 1985 (when the city of Worcester, Massachusetts had a poetry festival to mark his eightieth birthday), Greg and Carol Stockmal, the couple who had purchased his childhood home, came to consider its maintenance and restoration their full-time occupation. They filled it with furniture from the period when Kunitz lived there (throne chairs, majolica, and Oriental rugs, for example) and spent hours searching flea markets and antique shops for things like old-fashioned plumbing fixtures.

While visiting an estate sale in Newport one day, the Stockmals found a 1912 Wasserman baby-grand piano. Carol recalled a moment in "Three Floors" (a poem of Kunitz's from the 1960s):

Mother was a crack of light
and a gray eye peeping;
I made believe by breathing hard
that I was sleeping.
Sister's doughboy on last leave
had robbed me of her hand;
downstairs at intervals she played
Warum on the baby grand.

The Stockmals bought the piano and, while they were wondering where to put it, the telephone rang. It was Kunitz, who proceeded to tell them exactly where his family's baby grand had been. They placed theirs accordingly. Said Greg Stockmal: "It's almost like -- I hate to use the term -- a psychic connection."

["It's still his house," Greg once remarked of the home. "We're just taking care of it for a while."]

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