Today’s poem is "Threshold Choir" by David Sloan. He’s a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Poetry Program and teaches at Maine Coast Waldorf High School in Freeport. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and he received Maine Literary awards in 2012 and 2016. He’s the author of two books of poems, The Irresistible In-Between and A Rising, both from Deerbrook Editions.
He writes, “A dear friend has been a member of small group that sings people on the verge of dying over that threshold. His poignant description of several of these encounters provided the inspiration for this piece.”
by David Sloan
Everyone's eyes are closed—
the singers, the granddaughter
asleep in a chair pulled close
to the bed, and what's left
of a woman breathing raggedly,
straining to escape a husk.
Despite the angularity
of the room, circles appear
everywhere; a ring of family
photographs, singers surrounding
the bed, the tag around the dying
woman's flower-stem wrist, the O
made by the dozing girl's mouth.
The tubes have been pulled out,
machines have stopped humming.
They sing adagio, softly,
I will be your standing stone
They want to lift and be
lifted, a piano levitating
on its own stream of notes.
I will stand by you.
Her breathing rasps, her eyelids
They are singing to themselves.
Poem copyright © 2019 David Sloan.