Such a small bird you are in this raging storm,
With icy winds beating you down.
I can offer you but a brief moment of company,
While this tempest is shrieking 'round.
I can hold out my hand to provide you some lee.
I can try to lend humor to this bitter day.
I can cradle you with what small warmth I breathe,
But I can't make the storm go away.
I'd erase this cold bite if I only knew how,
Or I would take you far, far away.
Oh little bird, the skies grow darker still,
And I fear that you're slipping away.
Please don't leave me, dear friend, for I am not through.
There's so much more I want to say.
I have jokes and stories that you've never heard,
And games we have yet to play.
And how will I weather this wild winter storm?
I'm afraid, if you leave, I'll die too.
I'd certainly freeze from the chill in these winds,
For the warmth in my heart comes from you.
I wrote this in February 1995, right after we learned that my wife's cancer had returned
and was Stage 4. My wife asked me, in the last week of her life, to read this at her
memorial service, which I was barely able to do.
The specter of night shouldn't diminish the day,
For, without darkness, there's no measure of light.
Each day emerges as against its nocturnal canvas,
Then is affirmed as it fades back into night.
Simply to see the day, however, is not to seize it.
To endure it is, alone, little ground to rejoice.
But to capture its song and sing it out loud
Is to ride an angel's voice.
Thus, the shimmering dewdrop, poised on a morning petal,
Is rendered precious by its nature sublime--
An ephemeral gem, embracing the brilliance of the sun,
Its worth not measured in time.
For, depart though it will before noon has come,
It radiates the warm glow of morning light,
Then sheds its material form, resting ethereal,
'Til reborn in the cool of night.
I wrote this right after we learned in May 1996 that my wife had only two months to
live. Accompanying the poem, I presented her with an emerald ring flanked by two
diamonds. She also asked me to read this at her service.
Oh, resplendent comet,
who flared out sooner
than had you not burned with such rare intensity.
Once a fireball decorating the heavens,
then mere disintegrated particles,
suspended in a cold, silent vacuum.
But the extraordinary light you generated
continued on its course,
surviving your demise.
Radiating outward in all directions,
an expanding, spherical shell of energy,
orphaned from its source.
Your light illuminating that in its path,
energizing each new host and
changing it forever.
Written on the 1 year anniversary of my wife's death.
One Last Kiss
What I would give for one last kiss,
For one brief moment of your warm embrace,
For the soft, tender caress of your breath on my face.
But the sweet memory of your smoky smile,
Mischievous, trusting, smart,
Still evokes your essence, still melts my heart.
Your greatest fear in passing away--
That of becoming replaced or forgotten--
Could hardly prove more misbegotten.
As the steady ravages of time
Work on those of us left behind,
You rest forever young and vibrant in my mind.
And your place in my heart
Stands bright and pure,
Unencroachable, unthreatened, steadfast and sure.
Not even new love,
Were it ever to come my way,
Could keep me from loving you 'til my dying day.
Written for the 1 year anniversary of my wife's death.
Blue snow bathed in a crisp, full moonlight,
a sparkling, new-fallen sea of miniature fireflies,
pushing the darkness under shivering trees
into stately shadows of frozen twigs and branches,
a blackened melange of maple and oak.
Frost burning cold on the back of his throat,
puffing like a laboring steam engine.
The crunch of his footsteps
careening off into the echoes of night.
Encroaching numbness in his fingers and toes
driving him onward,
drawing from millennia of survival,
hearkening the genetic voice of flesh.
Oblivious to the ready beauty
lying in the cast of frozen images offered up by the night,
his eyes will only see the distant light of a farmhouse
perched on a gently sloping hill,
Silently beckoning to him
with the insiduous pull of a magnet,
Seducing him with the prospect of warmth and hospitality,
disabling any thought of other paths lying ahead in the snow.
Calling to him in the name of hereafter.
When my wife died, my grief was so strong that I felt enormous pressure to believe in an
afterlife, as solace for her death, notwithstanding my strongly held belief that no afterlife
exists. I wrote this poem about that struggle and about the powerful human need to
believe in an afterlife in such circumstances.
Don't Lose Your Voice
We lay on your bed one night,
your head on my stomach.
Such a brave little boy.
You offered, out of the blue,
what you remember about the day Mommy died.
"I remember her heart--
how it wasn't beating.
Oh, Daddy. When Mommy died, my heart melted.
I didn't know what to do."
Don't lose your voice.
"I felt so sad, I just didn't know what to do."
Neither did I, my little warrior.
For there is nothing to do
but let the pain come in and take over,
like flood waters rushing over the plains.
Too strong to stand against,
it will break you if you try.
Let it carry you along,
and you will regain your footing in calmer waters.
But don't lose your voice.
Keep the windows open
in these dank, musty halls of grief.
For only then will pain not turn to poison.
No, don't lose your voice, little one,
for yours is a special voice.
It is Mommy's voice,
resonating through that open little heart of yours
that beats so strongly.
Speaking words of healing.
Please, don't lose your voice.
This was written based on what my son told me one night when he was five years old,
two years after his mother died. I have tried to make the kids feel safe to express their
grief, because I believe that that is the only way to work through it healthily. I fear the
day when they might not want, or be able, to express it anymore.
Flip's wife died from cancer.
Flip's e-mail address
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