By night he sleeps in doorways and by day he comes here — to the train station to play the piano. With his hood up he sits hunched in to himself, but his fingers spill like light across the keys. And the rush of passers-by is startled to a standing still because he plays the familiar tunes as if his heart beats in his hands.
He’s not here today and the piano is silent. I sit down to it, and my fingers stumble through the low and quiet notes of that old carol “...God rest ye merry gentlemen”. But when his hands reach down from behind and rest either side of mine, for a few brief moments we’re joined together in the playing of it.
And there it is again, at last — that breathless surge of fresh remembrance that what is felt as holy, are simply those acts shared between unguarded hearts.
I leave him then, join the crowd on our journeys home, to music played by a man without one. Yet he plays the piano with as fierce a wish as children’s eyes will search the sky tonight. He plays as others clasp their hands in prayer: “...good tidings of comfort and joy”.
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 24 December 2019.