This poem is written from the perspective of my daughter, Laura (then 9), who lost her special duck Wingers to marauding dogs. Other beloved creatures succumbed, like her kitten, Diamond. Laura and I somberly buried each in the garden, resting them on beds of green grass, and covering them with loosely sprinkled rose petals. Each funeral was tender, both sad and sweet.
SPRINKLED WITH ROSE PETALS
Wingers was my special duck.
I raised her from a day-old chick.
But she died when the neighbor’s dogs roved over
In the middle of the night.
Diamond was my precious kitten.
I watched her being born.
I stroked her fur when she lay sick.
I gently stroked her fur.
I found a yellow-breasted song bird:
Her feathers scattered on the grass;
Her wings stretched out;
Her beak upturned, eyes staring at the sky.
I laid them all in garden graves,
On beds of soft, cool grass,
Wrapped in soft, white cloth.
I sprinkled them with rose petals,
Red and pink and white.
–Bend, bend, but don’t break.–
I had rescued Austin from his fall just two years before. Now the barrel-chested man was gone. Mary, his widow, a diminutive black-haired woman in her nineties, lived alone. We tried to visit her one afternoon. We knocked and knocked, but no one answered the door. Later we learned that she slept during the day and lived her waking life at night. I now understood the dim yellow light that glowed late at night from her living room window. Continue reading
–In the presence of goodness, good people rejoice.–
My boots crunch loudly on the loose and frozen gravel, rousing common sparrows from their cold roosts in the willow and wild rose bushes. Despite being leafless in December, the bushes seem an impenetrable tangle of twigs and dead leaves. I hear, rather than see, the birds fluttering and tweeting within. I have bundled myself against the bitter cold, and wonder how these almost weightless creatures survive Winter. I imagine them huddled in their houses, mostly protected from the wind, their feathers puffed out to gather insulating air, with temperatures sinking to just above zero. I marvel that these birds constantly peep and sing, fluttering about with the energy of jubilation. I envy them their unconditional happiness. I have come to appreciate their enthusiasm, to rely upon their unassailable cheerfulness. Continue reading