Waiting to Sing “Oh Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion”
and Watching the Audience During a Performance of Handel’s Messiah

you are in heavy flannel plaid
buttoned up tight
clean jeans
new blue suspenders

billed wool cap with discrete
winter pom-pom
held by one long finger
on a bony knee

polished black work shoes
right cocked oddly inward
gray-haired daughter at your side
serene in muted polyester

the strings and harpsichord
pour out Handel’s
offering to God

how many times
have your battered hands folded
quiet on lean thighs
snow swirling outside the church

cows fed and hunched
rough-coated in the cold dark
while this music marked
another year gone past

comfort ye

canted over in your chair
jaw slung hard left
a stroke-collapsed face
slow eyes roving across the floor