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.

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