Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poem of the Week:Poem for my Mother and Father

I was going to post something different this week but something made me think I should post this one.

My mother and father were born 5 days apart in 1910 and died three months apart in 80 years later, my father in October 1990 and my mother in February of 1991. My mother after an illness that lasted between 15 and 18 years. You'd think I'd know exactly, but I don't. The poem says ten, but it was longer than that. It was a long, long time. I read a number of posts this week about people losing their parents. I guess that's why it feels like this is the time to share this poem. It's a loss we are never ready for.


I want to bury my parents' ashes
In an un-grave
A sweetly flowering tree peacefully renewing the earth
I want sunshine and blue skies and butterflies
And maybe an angel or two
To sing a silent, magic song and hold my hand
I'd like some wildflowers -- yellows and purples
And maybe some blue as well
And a mild, gentle breeze to kiss my cheek
I'd like greenness and laughter,
Some children playing, maybe, to remind me there's renewal
And then I'd like a picnic
Full of laughing and remembering the happy times;
The sad ones too, but gently, with sunlight on them
And maybe we could sing a song or two or share a favorite poem.
These parents are my babies now
And I want to protect them from any more pain
Because their dying wasn't sweet.
Ten years coming, it was long and slow and hard,
Their dying one death, though two events,
My mother, slowly/quickly fading
Body and mind failing in a subtle and coordinated dance
My real Mom disappearing way back,
Spirited away somewhere, herself and not herself
Each sad replica dying in turn,
Replaced by a paler, sadder clone
My father holding on,
Clinging vainly to those rare, cruel flickerings
of who she was once

Clinging too the false hope that he could somehow have her back
Trying to will her with the force of his love
Once more into the fierce, proud, vital soul she once had been
That struggle sometimes costing him the magic that was there
His eyes so focussed on a distant past
That he missed the sweeter moments of the now
Hard not to do it --
So confusing to have someone change so much,
and not change, too

It must have broken his heart; finally did, really...
But what I want to say is:
Her illness had them both
It does, I think, with couples so close
It may be only one body dying, but the lives and souls are joined
And everybody's got the disease
That's why we grieve so hard,
Because our way of being in the world gets lost
We lose each other and we lose ourselves, too
But sometimes, also, we're re-born
And that's scary and joyful and sad
And it's always lonely, because it has to be
Even if you have the best company in the world,
Even if the Universe is giving it's all to push you from the womb,
Still, it's a different universe, even though it's the same
And it's hard to share it
And that's why I'd like to bury my parents ashes quietly
In an un-grave
Because living and dying, alive and dead
We gave and still give birth to each other
And that's a very private thing
It's pain and love and creation all mixed up
And it's awesome
And terrible
And wonderful
And holy
And I don't understand it, but I know it's true
I've lived their death and been reborn
Each and both
Life and death, vastly different but the same
A circle, whole, unbroken and eternal
And that's why I'd like to bury my parents' ashes
A sweetly flowering tree peacefully reminding me
That they're not gone.

- Katherine E. Rabenau


I hope you will all take a minute to remember that this is Autism Awareness Month. The following blogs and posts offer an opportunity to put a human face and heart on something which for most of us is just something we have heard about but don't really understand.

These are the Days
Forks Off the Moment - We are All Unique
Mother of Shrek
Full Soul Ahead
Down River Drivel
Look Me In The Eye


Isabelle Chin said...

A very wonderful poem. It made me shed tears :) It is a loss we are never ready for. Nevertheless, we have got to stay happy and positive for our parents, and ourselves.

Jeni said...

Beautiful poem and it rings so true too. I never knew my Dad as he died when I was but an infant so I only knew of him, what others thought to share of him. But my feelings about my Mom, her life, her death and this poem really put so many things into perspective. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Akelamalu said...

That's a beautiful poem, thank you for sharing Raven. I miss my Mum. x

maryt/theteach said...

Beautiful poem for your dear parents, Raven! So heartfelt and sympathetic. I can feel it. (((hugs!))) :)

Linda Murphy said...

This is truly moving and while I do not know what it must be like to lose parents, it is true that they live on in hearts, in gentle reminders and you have written it beautifully.

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

lovely well-paced poem that filled a number of thoughts in my head about own circumstances - I think my own mother had a very timely death and now I miss her in ways it is sometime hard to relate on paper. It took me twenty years to get round to writing a poem about the death of my gran which satisfied me, so maybe the time is not there quite yet - or maybe I've already done it.

Richard said...

Thanks for sharing this one Katherine. At this time in our lives these thoughts and emotions can overwhelm us.

Your poem provides insight and perspective into the soul of one of our generation. Thanks again,


Dianne said...

I love how joyful and tender and sad and hopeful this poem is. It is simple yet complex - I hope you know what I mean by that.

You're such a wonderful poet Raven.

Gene Bach said...

Very, very nice poem. Well written and full of great views.

Geraldine said...

So sad and so beautiful at the same time. A wonderful tribute.

tt said...

Thank you for the glimpse into your beautiful soul.
That is a beautiful tribute to your parents. squeezers to you.

Raven said...

Isabelle Chin - sorry I made you cry. It really does change things completely even though nothing changes in some ways. And life does insist on going on.

Jeni - your comment really moved me. I'm so glad my little poem could help.

Akelamalu - thank you. I miss mine too even though it was not the easiest relationship.

the teach - thank you so much.

SnoopMurph - I hope you live long before you lose your parents. In truth, though, we never really lose anybody, especially those closest to us. They are part of our hearts.

Ackworth Born - thanks for visiting Raven's Nest. It is hard to get these things on paper. I have mixed feelings about this poem. I would like some day to write about the whole long process of my mother's dying, but I don't know that it will ever happen. I hope you find your poem when the time is right and that it speaks to your heart.

Richard - thanks. Your posts about your mother were part of the reason I chose to share this poem.

Dianne - What a lovely compliment... simple yet complex... and flattering. What more could I ask?

Gene Bach - thank you

Geraldine - thank you

Raven said...

tt- yikes - I missed you... and you called me a beautiful soul and sent me a hug! Thank you so much. Hugs back.

WH said...

Aimply beautiful! The idea of the earth being renewed, as well as the nature imagery, is a comforting thought.

Raven said...

Thank you billy.