Monday, March 17, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 41 - To Comfort You, Shelley

I wrote this poem for my friend Shelley when her mom passed away. We were in our mid-20's and not really prepared to lose a parent. I realize one is never really prepared - my uncle can't believe his 93-year-old mother is actually gone. But Shelley's loss was the first time I came face-to-face with the chill of that reality.

Now, of course, my own words reach out to me from across that 20-year divide.

To Comfort You, Shelley

The tide moves up
To hide the gash
Along the shore

Hole ripped from your life
Waves attempt to wash it clean

Sand resettles
Hole is not so deep

When the tide moves out
The wound can still be seen

Sun bakes the salt
So it shines in the sand
These moments glisten like diamonds

When the whispery foam
Seeps in once more
You know

Though the wind has lifted her soul beyond reach
She'll return
In the way that you'll cradle your child
The songs you'll sing to her
A look in your eyes
A phrase
A gesture

She will be there
In generations you won't even know
Just as you are a part
Of those women you've never met

How fitting
That on Mother's Day
She gave herself the gift of peace
And gave you an anniversary
That will celebrate the woman she was

The tide of time
Will carry the tears out to sea
And leave behind
The wind-fresh memories
Of her strength
Her smile
Her wit
Her beauty
And the generosity that you share

Look for her
In the raindrops
That dance upon the sea
She will be where you least expect her
And know that her love for you
Did not leave with her
But is hiding in the air that you breathe

Copyright - Julia Smith - 1988


Photo by Maureen Kemp


Jill said...

I like you remembering poem...
And yes, it is never easy to loose someone...I've talk about that aunt of mine that pass away a couple of years ago. She was sick most of my life, and it,s still hurt like hell...

gautami tripathy said...

Letting go of a parent is so very difficult. I still miss my dad although it almost six years now. The pain still persists..

I liked this..

Annette said...

This is beautifully written, Julia.
And especially poignant to me.

Missy said...

*sniffle* powerful, moving, poignant, comforting, sad... I could go on and on with the adjectives, but I think you get the picture. Loved it!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That last stanza almost brought me to tears. It's gorgeous, Julia.

Sniz said...

I love this, especially the last verse.

Akelamalu said...

What a beautiful poem you wrote for your friend - that was kindness itself Julia x

Karina said...

Beautiful! I love this line: "She gave herself the gift of peace". Beautiful!

Amy Ruttan said...

I won't tell you that when you wrote that poem I was ten. ;)

With my near miss with my 53 yr old Mom this fall ... I just can't or want to fathom it.

Shelley said...

Thanks Julia - even after 20 years it still moves as it did when you wrote it for me. Very prophetic too as I see her every time I look in the mirror and hear her mother's voice in mine.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem. And like Susan said, the last stanza affected me deeply -- gorgeous and so filled with comfort and wisdom.

Julia Smith said...

Love to you, Shelley!

M. said...

that was beautiful. it took me straight back to my father's passing (i was 11) - for some reason, the parts that grabbed me most were 'gash' and 'gave herself the gift of peace'

Annie Mac said...

That's a beautiful poem Julia. I'm lucky to still have my Mom - and she's healthy. But sometimes, when I let myself think about it, it scares me to think that she won't always be here. So, I don't think about it...

Toni said...

Julia, I have so admired and enjoyed your work. But this one, my friend, THIS one made me cry. It reaches so deeply and touches the heart so well. You are gifted and this is a most beautiful work and gift.