He wakes
a ghost smiling
as if in a place unreal
time has blown away years of him
like birds gone in a flash of wing

A nursing home
devoid of usual acrid smells
we traipse in each week
bring him songs
“Oh, when the Saints…”
A bit of grin twinkles
like he is focusing the lens
of his memory on these words
lips gently mime
“Go marching in”
eyes close and open
thoughts flock back

We slow the last line
“Oh, how I want to be in that number”
Vowels take the stage—
long and wide
pull him along
“Oh, when the Saints….”
We end the song
His chin rests on the acreage of his chest
He whispers “Amen”
the word seems to echo
in the architecture of his head

Repeats “Amen” louder
with an expression of someone
told something extraordinary

We take our leave
say we’ll see him next week
he turns to us like a hiker
looking down a path
reviewing the journey
I imagine him unspooling
another “Amen”