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Katlin Profile
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Absence and Agape


Absence and Agape
(for JW)

We couldn’t bury you today.
The earth too sodden to take you in.
But we heard your poems from the pulpit,
poems I never know you wrote
on horror films, the Golden Rule,
Beethoven and Vienna.
The compact mirror of your words
cast back a somber image
 
until your sister rose to intercede
with “Jeffrey’s Rules for Living”:
“Exercise, exercise, exercise.”
and “Always buy good chocolate.”
We sang old hymns and ate
our macaroni salad in the church
school basement.

The nearby creek defied its banks,
erased the road, and we were forced,
past flooded fields, to higher ground
and took the long way home.

Late spring, when you are finally laid
to rest, the pastures will be green,
and I will have had time to absorb
the matter-of-fact way you wrote
about humanity’s hypocrisies
without being sentimental, judgmental
or ironic.


Last edited by Katlin, Jan/2/2009, 10:55 am
Dec/31/2008, 2:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Note to readers: I first wrote this as a journal entry not long after my friend's funeral. I recently came back to it, typed into the computer. Not much was changed from the original except for the ending, to which I added the final lines.

This afternoon I sent a copy of the poem to my friend's brother and sister-in-law, who are also friends of mine and who I had hoped to spend New Year's Eve with but cannot now due to inclement weather. I'm not sure if the poem is too personal for nonrelated readers, or if the scene is universal enough and my friend captured well enough for this to speak to others.

In any event, this is my New Year's Eve Field Notes posting in honor of "Auld Lang Syne":

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' lang syne?"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne


Last edited by Katlin, Dec/31/2008, 3:06 pm
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Thninking about Burns reminded me of my father and an old poem I once wrote, which seems to fit with the theme I've started here:

Family and Friends

My father died a thousand miles
away without my knowledge
let alone my blessing. When my aunt
called with the news, I spoke in syllables
like a child, "My fa-ther is dead?"

Tomorrow would be his birthday,
the anniversary of our final conversation
five years ago. He said, "Keep writing
poems. You’re good at that. Don’t
forget: We’re direct descendants
of Bobby Burns."

I once told this story to a friend.
She said, "Oh, Scotland is
small. Everybody there
is related to him."

This same friend explained
my father never loved me
and claims I’m in denial.

Once when I was visiting,
my stepmother introduced me
to a neighbor. He said, "Hello.
I didn't know Bill had a daughter."

I didn’t attend the funeral.
None of our blood relatives
did. Sometimes an absence
becomes a presence
that comes and goes again.


Last edited by Katlin, Jan/2/2009, 10:58 am
Dec/31/2008, 5:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Patricia Jones Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Thanks, Kaitlin. I've read them several times to day. The reflective nature of both fit my mood perfectly today. So much so, I wnt looking back through files not even on my current computer for a couple of very old poems to post on the Poetry to Prose board.

I like this Field Notes forum. : )

Hope people will post on it often.

Pat

---
"Don't you worry--I ain't evil, I'm just bad".
~Chris Smither~
Dec/31/2008, 7:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Patricia Jones   Send PM to Patricia Jones
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Yah. I can see why you might have chosen Field Notes in which to air your poems. It's like Dragonman said a couple of weeks ago. He pretty much said that sometimes it seemed to him that everything he makes is a field note. When you think about it all poetry is a journalist's report on the living and the dead, even when the poet gets engulfed by the living and the dead.

In this context the second poem is the one that works for me the more. The clinical reportage made at the expense of the engulfment by the living and the dead. That takes guts.

Tere

Dec/31/2008, 9:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Journal entries and field notes go together. I like this option.

Kait, I remember the second poem and I'm still struck by the father's gift in S2.

Chris
Jan/1/2009, 9:27 am Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Hi guys,

Thank you all for reading and for your kind words. I really like this Field Notes forum too. It feels like a comfortable space. Field notes, journal entries, letters, postcards, snapshots, freelance reporting, any thing that speaks to a handmade life, up close and personal, all seem to fit.
Jan/1/2009, 10:53 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


Here's another piece of the story about my father's death I'd like to share:

Dad's Memorial

When my father died I did not attend his memorial service or funeral. None of his blood relatives did. I won’t go into why this was at this point as it isn’t relevant to the topic. Instead, I would like to tell the story of my first tentative steps in the process of grieving for him.

I knew the date and time of my father’s memorial service, and I also knew that I needed, wanted, to do something to acknowledge his passing and honor his life. My stepfather had died six months earlier, so I knew how important a ritual of closure was to the beginning stages of the grieving process. I wanted to do my memorial ritual for my father in a church setting, and since I didn't belong to any church and many churches are locked in the evenings, I decided to go the chapel at a local Catholic hospital, which was open around the clock.

It was a rainy October night, so I was relieved when several friends offered to accompany me. I took several pictures of my father, the Bible he had given me for my seventh birthday and one of the long-stemmed red roses a friend had sent me. When we arrived at the chapel, it was empty and quiet. We sat down in one of the pews, and I proceeded with my ritual, which consisted of looking at my father’s photographs and reading favorite passages from the Bible. I was grateful that my friends where with me, but I couldn’t help wishing there was someone to share the depth of my grief--the way so many had at my stepfather’s funeral. Although my friends had met my father on several occasions, they didn’t really know him, so their sorrow and concern was more for me than for my dad.

At one point during my farewell service, a young man came into the chapel and sat down in an adjacent pew. He watched as I took the rose, laid it at the base of the Jesus statue and then knelt down. When I stood up, the young man was gone. A few minutes later, he returned, walked up to the statue of Jesus and placed a man’s brown wool sweater and a red cellophane flower in a Styrofoam cup at His feet. The young man then knelt down as I had done.

I began to feel it was time to leave, so I told my friends they could go and that I would join them in a few minutes. I took one last chance to say good-bye, sort of the emotional equivalent of taking one last look into the coffin, and then I rose to go. The young man was still kneeling at the front of the chapel. As I walked down the aisle to the door, a voice inside me said, “You should go to him.” I was conflicted because I didn’t want to intrude upon a stranger’s grief, and yet the young man was all alone, as I had not been, and had no one to comfort him. Finally, I decided: I will go up to him and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and then I’ll leave. Something about the depth of his sadness convinced me someone close to him had also died.

The young man did not hear me approaching, and it wasn’t until I laid my hand on his shoulder that he turned and looked up at me. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I said. With that the young man stood up, and we went into each other’s arms. “It will be alright,” I heard myself saying.

After a moment, the young man stepped back, smiled a little and said, “Thanks, mom.” Although I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, I smiled too. Then he asked, “We’ll see them again, right?” “Yes, I think we will,” I surprised myself by saying. I smiled again, “You take care” and went to join my friends.

In a way I could never have anticipated let alone arranged, I got what I wanted, but I almost missed the universe’s gift by being reluctant to disturb a stranger.



Last edited by Katlin, Apr/24/2010, 1:33 pm
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Absence and Agape


It is as you call it, Katfriend, and your piece rather illustrates the point. A handmade life.

If you don't mind, later I would like to reply to your note with another memorial scene. Of course, I'll post it in seperate thread, not wanting to take from yours.

Tere
Jan/1/2009, 3:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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