Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19: The Last I saw, Anniversary, Maya Angelou, "When Great Trees Fall"

After several minutes of rummaging about in the grass at my side, he eased into the water under the bridge and paddled to his den with the jawful of grass held high, and that was the last I saw of him.

Dillard is talking about a muskrat.  She spends days watching for and observing this creature.  The bubbles on the surface of the water as it appears.  The weed stump it chews down.  The mouthful of grass it gathers.  And then, after all of that, Dillard watches it disappear forever into Tinker Creek.

Today was the anniversary of my sister's death.  A year ago today, she took one last breath just before 7:30 in the morning, and then she was gone.  Just before 7:30 this morning, I stopped by the cemetery.  It had rained overnight, and my sister's stone was studded with water drops.  I stood there for several minutes, remembering the chaos of a year ago.  The crying, phone calls, arguing (yes, there was arguing--when my family gathers for any reason, there's always the possibility of disagreement). 

This morning, however, there was peace.  I returned after work with my daughter and son, who wanted to put flowers on my sister's grave.  As we were leaving, my seven-year-old son said, "The world feels like something's missing.  Something big."  I nodded and hugged him.

This evening, to honor my sister, I attended a fundraiser for my sister-in-law, who participates in a cancer walk in New York every year.  It was a good night, full of laughter and food and fellowship.  I wasn't able to donate a whole lot of money, but at least I did something meaningful in my sister's memory.  And had fun.

Saint Marty's sister was a great soul.

When Great Trees Fall

by:  Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.

When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,

the air around us becomes

light, rare, sterile.

We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,

see with

a hurtful clarity.

Our memory, suddenly sharpened,


gnaws on kind words


promised walks

never taken.

Great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us.

Our souls,

dependent upon their


now shrink, wizened.

Our minds, formed

and informed by their

 fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance 
dark, cold


And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

She existed.

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