Posts Tagged ‘memorial’

The mother walked
in a deep river gorge
forged by water and time.
She knew herself alone.
She moved with no urgency.
She stepped as if she’d forgotten
what time was.
She paused at the wild currants
and pulled the small red fruits
into her mouth.
She paused on the bridge
and watched the water
continue its forging.
She paused on a flat rock,
removed her shoes
and slipped her feet
into the cold water.
She did not mind
the hem of her black dress
spilling into the stream.
She sat.
She didn’t weep until she did.
She wept until she didn’t.
She sat until she forgot
she was sitting.
She sat until
there was a clearing in her
the way the river will eventually clear
after it’s been muddied by the rain.
There’s no magic number
for how many minutes
or hours or years
it takes to clear.
It is, perhaps, sufficient to know
clearing happens.
At some point, she rose
and walked toward home.
She was not alone.
There was nothing that was not beautiful.

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After hours of weeping and laughing
and hearing stories that make me fall
even more deeply in love with my boy,
after flower bouquets and tear-stained words
and full body hugs and cello and viola and Country Roads
and leaning deeply into grief and grace,
I sit alone in my car and discover
with a quick glance at my phone
someone has given my address
to internationalcupid.com,
and in the last few hours of heartbreak
and breaking wide open, I have amassed
dozens of likes and letters of nascent love
from people around the world.
And part of me is annoyed and part of me
thinks my son must have coordinated this prank
from beyond the veil, perhaps
as retribution for me coordinating a sing along
at his memorial. I can hear him.
Mom, you’re embarrassing me. Mom.
Really? Mom. What are you doing?
Mom, stop right now or else … or else …
But I can’t regret I shared the song
I wrote for him before he was born,
shared the song I sang to him
when first they laid him on my chest,
shared the song I sang him almost
every night of his life, shared the song
I sang to his body before they rolled it away.
And the hundreds of people who gathered today,
they sang it back, true and full of love.
It was worth it, Finn. It was worth it
to hear the air ring with your song.
Could you hear it? I think so,
based on the quick retribution. I’m not sorry.
You are the song I’m still listening for,
the song I’m still learning to sing.
You are the song I will continue to share,
the song I can’t help but singing along.

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We gather at my brother’s home
and his wife has ordered 57 duck calls.
They were not in time for the party,
but when we arrive to find them
on the front stoop, immediately
we open the box and almost a dozen adults
begin blowing on the duck calls—
not just once or twice,
but for twenty minutes
we make rising calls, falling calls,
sharp quick staccato calls,
calls to the beat of Bridge Over the River Kwai.
It is loud and raucous and somewhere
in heaven, my father I am sure
was blowing, too, and giggling
until tears ran down his cheeks
and he rubbed his wet eyes with his fists.
There were tears today, sobs, even,
but my god tonight how we laughed
as we made the sound my father loved—
the sound to call in the birds.
How it called in his memory, startling
and alive—how I felt him wing in—
not sure if the tears on my cheeks
were his or mine.

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For the Living

He has given you his love light to carry.
            —Wendy Videlock

It is the work of the living
to grieve the dead.
It is our work to wake each day,
to live into the world that is.
It is our work to weep,
and it is our work to be healed.
Some part of us knows
not only the absence of our beloveds,
but also their presence,
how they continue to teach us,
how they invite us to grow.
It is our work to be softened by loss,
to be undone, destroyed, remade.
Wounded, we recoil,
and it is our work to notice how,
like crushed and trampled grass,
we spring back.
It is our work to meet death again
and again and again,
and though it aches to be open,
it is our work to be opened,
to live into the opening
until we know ourselves
as blossoms nourished from within
by the radiance of the ones
who are no longer physically here.
They have given us their love light to carry.
It is our work to be in service to that light.

*For those of you who have been with the blog a long time, you may recall this poem in an earlier form from about five years ago … The first few line are the same, and the “it is our work” is the same, but it’s been fundamentally changed as my understanding of “our work” is ever evolving. I read it today at the memorial of a beloved member of the Telluride community, Clint Viebrock. For any who have loved someone and lost them, this poem is for you.

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