Removal time for Florrie, piano woman, songster,
this calm nightfall with fade up of stars,
feast of Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior.
She's lifted on men's shoulders at the doorway
of the chapel, with a pause for priest to greet
and bless with holy water, as in baptism,
signifying confluence of omega and alpha.
Recall the cadence of the town hall piano,
the temperamental mike, the songs, the nicotine
and brandy timbre of the voice across the years.
Tonight she's all sung out, but in best blouse, with
rouge and lipstick and mascara, with jewelled
fingers that set men and women dancing
through their given nights, their orbits of the sun.
All's come down to elemental word and water,
under great Jupiter, remote yet clear – see
the planetary gleam aligned above the belfry
and envision sarabande of its Galilean moons:
Europa, Ganymede, Io, Callisto . . . in astro time
above a river town, an open door of light,
a woman earthling borne upon men's shoulders.
Florrie is laid before altar, font and crib,
until tomorrow's rituals of otherworld and earth.
For company tonight she has silence and the dark,
holy family, shepherds, animals and kings –
remembered music is the gift she brings,
those nights the slicked and scented took the floor
for her Don't Get Around Much Anymore.
Michael Coady has published several collections, including All Souls and Going by Water (Gallery Press )