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Fermata

A vein flutters gently,
restive hands searching beneath the blanket then growing still,
silence punctuated by rasping breaths.

When winter brushes the leaves away, 
the bones of the land are all laid out to view,
crags and valleys softened only by snow.
It’s like that here, in this room,
your brow still proud as tired cheeks drift down and away.

Down the hall, a man cries for help.
I wish I could help him, or you.
But perhaps it is enough to have been here, to have said the words of love,
to have given thanks for my life, a river sprung forth from yours.

My earliest memories of you all carry music,
whether it be Beethoven, Bach, Orff, or Schubert.
I remember you pumping the pedals on the old reed organ
so I, legs far too short to reach, could play.

It’s for the conductor to decide how long this fermata will last,
whether a cadenza will be offered, how soon the final barline comes.
But if you listen still, please hear us when we say
that we are grateful, that we are sad, and that we love you very much.
And when it’s time for you to go, go well.

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