My Father's Voice

Written for my father while he was in a coma, not knowing if he might speak again.

We sang together in church this year, your baritone voice like a clear wind behind me as we faced the tiny congregation.

I fumbled over words, forgot that I was singing too for even then after all those years your voice was a surprise, a mystery, a guilty pleasure we don't allow. It is our secret how we love to hear each other sing.

My new mother's heart ached just then, in the middle of the hymn, for all the times we did not sing when we could've belted, dammit.

Now you sit accidentally confined across the great oceans. I wonder if you hear your own voice singing as I do? Do you sit surprised at the mystery, ache for the taste of it on your tongue?

Daddy, I like to think you hear God singing this morning, a mother's song to cradle you. And somewhere in the distant choir beyond that gracious sound you pick out my voice, as you always said you could, and then you start humming.