For Shelly

27 Dec







Shelly Powell, George’s much younger cousin, passed away this morning, after a courageous, tenacious battle against stomach cancer.  She fought so hard and defied all the doctor’s expectations for a year. She was only 55, a great hiker, a vegetarian, she worked out, she had a spiritual practice, and was beloved by an enormous circle of friends. This is not at all fair, but, as a friend of mine says, “Mother Nature doesn’t give a damn.” And cancer doesn’t care.  Her partner Mark and her great friend Jan were with her at the end, and we had been able to see her last week at her “celebration of life” party. We are heartbroken, but she is no longer in pain.

I share for her A.D. Hope’s poem on the death of his wife.

The Death of the Bird

Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space,

She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.


2 Responses to “For Shelly”

  1. Mark Parson December 27, 2014 at 5:23 am #

    Thank Y’all beautiful and fitting

    • esauboeck December 27, 2014 at 5:43 am #

      You’re welcome, Mark. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do for you, OK?

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