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.
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.