My friend Judy died this past January. During her last months she worked on a collection of her poems titled "A Crash Course in Dying."
Much as we had talked over the years of writing, poetry, and creativity in general, I'd never read any of her poems - I'm not quite sure why but I think she was very reserved about them. Just over a week ago, John Briggs emailed me the whole collection.
Here is one. It makes me happy to share it.
The Jungle of Memory-Entangled Vines
You leave a legacy of love among
the now poignant trappings of your lives,
the shrubs and the furniture,
the paintings and the garden things.
Words spoken to and about you over the years
resound as counterpoint
to the officer's announcement of the accident.
A stillness arises, as if from your bones--
wherever they may be--on their shattered way
to eternity, draped in rags of what you had been wearing.
Since then, the calm has come and gone,
come and gone. It is what I anticipate
day after mendicant day, and it follows
the crash into my heart, my bittersweet voicing of your names.
In this jungle of memory-entangled vines,
in response to my call,
in lieu of the stillness, yesterday
you reached me by telephone,
a wrong number.
Darling, it said, this is Mother.
And her husband added his hello,
as Dad used to.
Some of these poems will be published in the next year or so under the title "Elegy." John Briggs is handling this, and anyone who would like further information may write to John at firstname.lastname@example.org