As we sang, I could watch the faces watching us.
In their bathrobes, some in wheelchairs, most very old,
some watched intently, nodding to the familiar carols;
others, hardly aware of us, stared at children, invisible,
now replaced by familiar strangers who told the same story
fresh every day and showed pictures from the future.
Our music was a flight to the familiar; it raised them
from their chairs up to the recognizable—
and so we spoke their tongue, their joy.
Each time I sing in a nursing home for the elderly
and the chronically ill, I learn again that giving
is tricky: the faces are watching and so am I.