(On performing at the Piece Hall for the Overgate Hospice candlelight vigil)
With rain streaming from my eyes I gaze up at Beacon Hill
Where a lone car’s headlights trace the tortuous road plunging into Halifax,
The vantage point had provided a favourite photo op on the way back from Southowram with Rachel
In this vast courtyard Anna had dressed up in period costume
And I’d wondered what it would be like to play music in this cradle of textile history.
Now I’m here, wearing 4 layers to keep out the cold and rain,
Squeezed together with other musicians
Beneath a leaking canopy which performs, unscored, Halifax’s own Water Music.
Two hundred candles glow in unsteady hands as nurses, volunteers and doctors
Relate heartfelt stories of comfort to the bereaved and grieving.
A surly-looking man in a high viz jacket wipes a tear from his eye as he stands motionless
While a press photographer tip-toes judiciously between the congregation.
A beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow renews the tears in my own eyes
As I recall my visit to Lily at the Overgate Hospice in Elland just before she took her place ‘beyond the rainbow.’
Thinking of her reminds me of the visit that Sarah and I took to her grave
And my distance from my own children is so painful that the floodgates open once more.
The baton is raised and the tips of my fingers emerge from their thermal blankets.
As we finish our set the clatter of dismantling music stands and stacking chairs replace the serenity of the carols
While tree lights twinkle like the headlights of that car high above, reflecting on the web cobbles
And lighting my approach to the railway station and my journey home.