with the evening commute, with radio news
of bombs in Kabul and campus gunfire
one town over. Even among sparkly cardboard bells
each thinks ahead to a fast food dinner
one more damn time, then bills, then laundry.
Then the curtain stutters open. A third-grader
runs to the piano, arches his hands and plays
Pachelbel’s canon in D, notes chosen over 300 years ago
still true. The adults shift and raise eyebrows—
surprisingly good—he’s like their own kids, noticed
mostly in fed-up swats and after-bath cuddle.
When, in his short years, did he learn
to wait as end note fades into prayer?
Next, a chubby, messy girl walks onstage.
Mid-December, she wears navy-blue shorts
bunched at the crotch and stares at some back corner
to focus, to project her voice in tones so pure
adult smirks freeze. Somewhere outside
the stars are brightly shining
and the audience holds still, listening
as though she sings a nearly forgotten secret,
as though she herself is the winter secret
whose breath exhales promise.