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He’s one of the first onstage!

A less disheveled crowd than usual . . .

Under those lights he probably can’t see us.

His son took his place on the top row of risers.

. . . sheepishly enduring the scattered applause

until the other choristers had filed on.

The conductor is grey-haired.

A gentleman.

No tuning of instruments; just a pitch.

A pose”he raised his arms

And they their expectations . . .

Minor chords. Latin language.

The conductor was merely the pulse of a larger hand

That gestured grandly toward a panorama.

Agricola, agricolae . . .

a, e, i, o, u,

Vowels uncomplicated by later centuries . . .

“ . . . etiam pro nobis . . . “

“pro nobis”? . . . pro forma . . . pro bono . . .

ablative, anyhow.

They sang the bitter-sweet polyphony by heart.

Their adolescent voices plaintive, yet composed.

Whence this solemnity?

The darkened hall, the measured phrases . . .

The bright young faces, swaying gently

Above the robes of dark maroon . . .

They were like tiers of votive lamps

Whose glow suffused the vaulted heights.

Did he admire more the music, or the man

who could command his son’s unflinching regard

and could withstand it?

For a moment he was again the Child,

intently placing wooden blocks,

while she watched, immobile, wondering,

“What shall the pattern be?”

“. . .in saecula saeculorum.”

Michael J. Miller