The Choir – a poem by Susan Wilson

The Choir


Fred was here and here was different,
a pause after collapsing on the staircase.
The indescribable things were waiting to be seen.
He heard the crying sound of the first tears.
His lips struggled over his teeth, a perfect set, 
a long-lost memory grown back.
Without a music sheet to hold his hands
he began to hum his uneasiness into a tune.

He saw his brother-in-law, shaking his head
of the aching of plans gone wrong.
He hummed Fred’s tune, as if he’d been practising
but he just couldn’t find the words
and the angel said you don’t need to know the words.

His other brother-in-law called out to them.
He had left behind a clogged up brain
for a mind as clear as menthol. 
Here was a sharp contrast. Happiness could hum too.

Fred’s wife sat down, tired from a year of suffering.
That moment had now passed. Her voice was weak
but she hummed as loudly as she could
and the angel said you don’t need to know the words.

His daughter thought she heard something and looked up.

His sister-in-law had dreamed she was sleeping
but she had worried herself awake.
She was humming for her daughter and her son.

His daughter picked up a pen and began to write.

His nephew was playing cards, collecting aces,
he said there were five, counting himself.
Nice eulogy cuz! I am myself again, he smiled.

His daughter kept on writing.

Another brother-in-law joined them.
He brought the sorry he had felt but could not say.
He hadn’t seen his niece for such a long time 
and he wondered what she was doing
and the angel said she is writing the words 
to a tune she believes she can hear. 


But, you don’t need to hear the music to know the song
and you don’t need to know the words to sing along.



Susan Wilson lives in East London and began writing poetry following the
death of her mother in 2017. Her poems have been published by Lucy Writers, Snakeskin, Runcible Spoon, Dreich, Areopagus, Streetcake, Rue Scribe and Amethyst Review. Her debut chapbook is
I Couldn’t Write to Save Her Life (Dreich, 2021).

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