Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Gift

Double Rainbow from

She lay in end-stage coma,
making her passage from this world.
I sat with her, in quietness, for a time,
and then began to look 
at the family photos on the wall:
of her, when she was young,
of her children and grandchildren
and great-grandchildren-
all the memories
down all the shambling years.

I reflected  she once had had a home 
full of things:
furniture, couches with doilies,
a heavy dining room table, assorted cutlery,
sets of matching china.
And now she had, on her nightstand,
a comb, a cardboard spittum cup, some moistened Q-tips:
the essentials. Not one thing more.

I wanted to give her something more
than just my presence so, after a time,
I opened The Leaf and the Cloud and read:

Think of me
when you see the evening star.
Think of me when you see the wren
   the flowing root of the creek beneath him,
   dark            silver         and cold

Remember me: I am the one who told you
that the grass is also alive, and listening.

As I read, the energy shifted 
in the listening room,
and I felt that my gift had been

Out I went, through the silent halls,
lined with people in beds,
making their final solitary passage,
out into the lowering dusk
and the aliveness of all the trees.
Out I went, on my own two feet,
breathing without a machine,
miracles, all.

On my right, arching above 
the flowering Japanese maples,
was a double rainbow,
symbol of beauty and of hope,
and I went forward into my evening,
and full of blessings.

The Leaf and the Cloud is, of course, by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet.
I wrote this - belatedly - in response to Shay's Poem Within a Poem prompt at Real Toads.


  1. Fine, Moving, I travelled with you/her here. I'm sorry I haven't been around for awhile. I'm enjoying Marge Piercy's class--I would love to work with Mary Oliver too! And meanwhile, her poems lift me up.

  2. Sherry, your poem will touch everyone who reads it ~~ profoundly. I know it did me.

  3. Sherry- this is just a beautiful poem. I am very moved by it. I have recited poetry to the dying but there's only Yeats that I know well enough to keep in mind in those situations. It is a very profound experience even then. Thanks for this lovely poem. k.

  4. Depthful and meaningful, Sherry. This poem will stay with me.

  5. Wonderful! I hope to try this challenge, too! I love how you layered yours and I love Mary Oliver, too ;D
    Beautiful and sentimental!!

  6. What strikes me the most is the transitory nature of everything...the couches and doilies, and earthly life itself. Thanks for being part of my challenge, Sherry; it would not have been complete without you.

  7. So beautifully written. It brought tears to my eyes, it may seem it is them, but it will be us, also. That solitary passage. Wow! Sherry!

  8. This is so tender. Made me think of my mother's passing.
    I love Mary Oliver, and your poem blended perfectly with hers. Love you too.

  9. This is lovely, Sherry. We are so lucky to be healthy.

    You know the weird thing about me reading your poem?

    Only yesterday I was looking out of the window at the rain and there before me was a double rainbow. It was only fleeting and not too distinct but there it was. lol

  10. This is so moving, and the poem within the poem takes on such significance - a poet may never know how deeply his or her words may touch people's lives.

  11. What a beautiful gift to share. Must pull out my copy of Oliver.

  12. This is full of the sense of mortality, Sherry, heavy with it, and yet, also with a very strong feeling of gratitude and life. I like the way you've used the word 'all' here to make the richness of things come out. A beautiful poem, and an excellent choice in Oliver--I have yet to read anything by her that didn't sing.

  13. I couldn't think of anything more beautiful to do for a dying person, than to share such words. This is so moving Sherry, what a wonderful poem!


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!