A bit late for World AIDS Day, but this song was written for it. Blessings to all who are still fighting the fight – doctors doing research, nurses offering loving care, and the people who struggle each day to take their 1,001 meds. Don’t let the media fool you – AIDS is not easy to manage. Peace, Amy
The Day I Saw An Angel Fly (For Jeffery French)
Words and Music by Amy Barlow Liberatore, copyright 2001
In the 80s, on a big iron bed
My friend Jeffery, and a sign that read:
BODY FLUID PRECAUTIONS
The nurse came in and whispered to me
“Put on a mask and gloves – it’s for protection, you see”
And in defiance of the rules, I lay the gloves aside and wiped his fever cool
When it was time to leave, Jeffery tugged at my sleeve, and spoke of…
Angels, flying free
He said, Angels, they’re waiting for me
They’ll take away my fever and fear
They’ll give me wings and release me from here
We’ve all of us, angels-to-be… I hope you see them when they come for me
When I go and you’re missing me so, just turn your face to the sky
And say you saw an angel fly
So many years, so many goodbyes
Too many breaks in our family ties…
Sisters, brothers, friends and lovers
A little news of research each day, and in the meantime, we pray
We keep on working for the best
But when the battle’s lost, and someone’s laid to rest
Jeffery’s words come back to me… I close my eyes and I see…
Angels, all around; angels, on holy ground
They see my tears and soothe all my pain
They give me courage to face life again
We’re all of us, angels-to-be… I know I feel them when they comfort me
I’m not sure of too much in this world, but I know you’ll never really cry
Until you see an angel fly
Can’t remember where I learned to laugh, but
I know I learned to cry
The day I saw an angel fly
NOTE: Jeffery died a week after I told him I was pregnant with my daughter. His beloved Christopher made sure Jeff was able to stay at home and pass away in his own bed, in his favorite nightshirt. Christopher is still with us, and this song is dedicated to both of them. And no, I did not misspell my friend’s name! “G. Jeffery French.”
Also at my poetic heart and hearth: Poets United.
Folks, everyone needs a vacation now and then. After a bit of a funk and then a lovely Thanksgiving, I have returned to Madison and will try to post daily. This poem is about a friend of over 30 years who has become a hero of mine. Selfless, talented, and an all-around great woman, loyal friend, loving wife, fabulous mom, and caring artist. For C., with love.
Therapy in Bb
Mrs. Kelly is dying.
The family wants the music therapist
to come as soon as she can.
So she revs up her little Vibe
heads towards the nursing home,
unlocks the trunk,
unloads guitar and gear…
preparing to sing another soul
to the other side.
Dying is easy – getting there is hard.
The soothing strum of her deft fingers,
her buttery smooth voice…
these are qualities of her calling.
As she almost whispers, “Danny Boy,”
Mrs. K’s shoulders relax;
fingers ease from clenched fists.
This family knows and trusts her,
and their shoulders relax as well.
Over the years, the music therapist has seen
the blank smiles of dementia,
heard their laughter, unprompted.
The tears of loved ones
trickling over forced, brave faces.
The final sigh, when death grants peace,
eight grams lifting along with her voice
Once, she sang in cabarets, acted in plays,
danced The Big Apple of Broadway dreams.
Music therapy has brought her more purpose
than playing adenoidal Miss Adelaide.
This calling gives her satisfaction.
Gives her purpose.
Gives her joy.
Gives her administrative grief.
Gives her patients relief.
Gives her backaches, but also
a swelling of her already brimming heart.
She is the angel of music
who helps death come in peace.