Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
I am one of a new breed, a hospital musician. Last week a doctor who had come out of a difficult eight-hour surgery heard the piano and stopped to rest. He said the aria I was playing from Bach's Goldenberg Variations revived him by reminding him of the larger picture. He said he felt more accepting of the outcome of the operation he'd performed. The man who'd received a new kidney said, "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony reminded me how much I want to live, how much I love life. After listening to the music I was able to pray again."