I’m not a poet. I don’t think in verse and I don’t typically write in verse, and I’m okay with that. I’m not a singer either, except in my car. (I’m a rock star there.) Or a painter, except on my walls.

However, a couple of years ago when I lost a good friend to a terrible illness, I began to write this out, as if someone else were occupying my head. (I’m just now remembering that the friend I lost WAS a poet. Oh goodness, more ghosts.)

Then I spent nearly two years changing words around, subtracting out and substituting, and I never completed it because I am not a poet, and poetry does not submit itself to my editing. But I’m in a new part of Grief Land now, so I dug this thing up and decided to surrender to it, along with so many other things.

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After you died

I began to look for your spirit in dragonflies

And once or twice in a red-winged blackbird.

If I’d seen a fox, I would have looked there too,

but the foxes are as scarce as you.

“Is it him?” I’d wonder

when the crepe paper wings you loved

lit on my canoe,

or an okalee song pierced a quiet afternoon.

But neither bird nor fly answered,

And still I felt empty.

Then one day

After a long time of enlisting your favorite animals

to host your missing spirit,

I grudgingly admitted that the dragonfly’s soul

is her own.

And again I felt empty.

But wait a minute, I thought to myself,

maybe this is not about reincarnation.

What if the dragonfly owed you a favor,

for that one time you offered some help,

a long-ago rescue from dire circumstance,

Maybe a botched landing in water

Or entrapment in a screen?

And remembering your kindness

(bear with me here)

the dragonfly agreed to convey your hello,

Just a small poke or a whisper

to one you left here

in a canoe.


Probably not.

But maybe.


9 thoughts on “Field Notes from Grief Land, Entry 2: Bargaining

  1. You may not consider yourself a poet, but THIS IS POETRY of the purest, most beautiful kind. I am deeply moved … and grateful you shared it here.

  2. This is beautiful, and poetic. And definitely I believe that things, beings, images, sometimes light, are sent to us to comfort by our loved ones. I don’t know that these things ARE our loved ones, (though I don’t know they are NOT), but I think our loved ones are somehow involved. Our 102 year old Aunt died this past February, and before she died I asked her if she’d try to let me know she was OK once she had transitioned. On the day of her funeral a cardinal sat in a tree and stared in at all the people eating a meal after the service. Another cardinal followed me as I took a walk a day later. And one sang to me the day after that. I am convinced she was letting me know she’s just fine, even happy, to be with her parents and sisters and brothers. It’s not every cardinal I see, just those that try to engage me. I believe that people that love us always stay with us in some way.

  3. I think you need to edit this post to change the first sentence – you mistakenly put a “not” in it.
    Your blog is one of my favourites because of not just your poetic way of writing, but your poetic way of seeing the world. It doesn’t matter how many poems you’ve written, you have a poetic view on the world that is undisputed.

  4. Well done! The poem is indeed an extension of your friend – we can all be channels of love and creativity. Just let it flow and then marvel at the message. I know I did!!

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