She’s learned to be quite patient with the staff preoccupied,
Attending to the frail and weak and not to one so spry.
She’s way too healthy to expect a swirl of nursing fuss,
But … who’d have thought that being free of pain could hurt so much.
My singing hour’s over and I kneel to pack my case,
I see her sad eyes focused on some distant, secret place.
She knows my songs of lovers loving for a thousand years,
Conceal a dissonance that one day torments aging ears.
She’s settled into living with its purpose stripped away;
She needs to close her eyes to see the difference that she’s made.
And there, she’s running down a sun-drenched field and off to school;
Eyes open … daylight demons lurk where nightmares used to rule.
She kindly nods when friends insist how thankful she should be,
But prays for hurried passage ‘til forgetting sets her free
From haunting joys of loving friends and youthful reverie;
Trusting that history erased will finally bring her peace.
And now I stop to take her hand as I pass on my way,
Though part of me’s afraid to know the details of her pain.
I cannot reason with “but for the grace of God go I;”
I stand in line for Mary’s chair, no matter what I try.
Still, unspoken understanding fills our silent gaze;
For the hour … we both hitched a ride far from this place.
I’d like to think there’s healing power in the songs I sing;
Truth is … her kind, courageous smile sets my heart on wings.
Brian Gillie is a teacher and performing artist with Connecticut Arts for Learning (formerly Young audiences of CT) and the CT Commission for Arts and Tourism. He presents school workshops and interactive assembly programs on the histories of American popular song and American social dance. Brian is also an accomplished percussionist, dancer, pianist and singer with a long history of group and solo performance from ragtime to hip-hop. Brian’s special avocation is performing for senior citizens throughout Connecticut, singing the American songbook classics from Hollywood and Broadway, swing era and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. Learn more about Brian at his website, briangillie.com, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.