Threshold Choir

Aug 14, 2020

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.”

Threshold Choir
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 
flutter, then—enough.
They are singing to themselves.

Poem copyright © 2019 David Sloan.