His Last Concert

Written by: Robert Ludden

I wasn't there to hear the choir
though once I sang with them,
but I still think of Holliday
at closing--cadence coming up
and his conducting stern, impassive
just as always
with the same authority,
demanding and receiving 
absolute attention,
pulling them along .

What were his thoughts, I wonder,
amid those final glorious moments
of polyphony?

And then again the homophonic chords 
resolving with "amen,"
his gaze still far away,  aside,
when just before the cutoff
he would turn, perhaps,
to look directly at the singers
--that faintest hint of smile appearing,

wrists in last release,
the frame of stillness introduced...
hands in the air...
four seconds of suspended time
and he stepped down
to face the last applause,
what then?

Without success, I understand,
they asked him back as guest
in those successive years
but knew as well as he,
in cadence there is no reprise.