Poetry Friday – In Memory

Jeff, gentle giant
Your heart was big, but failed
Today you are gone

It was the summer Scotty died.
I flew back a month after I moved to Iowa.
After the funeral
we went on a road trip.
Your aunt, Scotty’s grieving mom,
your broken Grandma,
and your stunned Aunt Denise
(who was being driven back to Iowa
to start a new school year
in a new school and new state)
and you, his cousin —
teenage laugher and listener,
so bright-eyed and fun-loving,
with a sly shyness.
You, who made the trip fun,
instead of a drudge.
We drove in the camper,
saw some sights,
took funny photos,
and told stories of Scotty.
It was the year of the Blizzard–
a new ice cream treat.
We stopped
in every small-town DQ
for a new flavor.

Today, thirty-five
years later, you have left us.
Another nephew
gone too soon–death’s order in
this broken world, false again.

It is Poetry Friday, and Laura Purdie Salas has the roundup here, with tankas and a new picture book coming out: If You Want to Knit Some Mittens.

24 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – In Memory

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Denise, and that “death’s order in this broken world” was “false again.” You’ve written a loving tribute to big-hearted Jeff. I like the details of family adventure: “We stopped/in every small-town DQ/for a new flavor.”

  2. Denise, please accept my condolences on the loss of your nephew. This is such a beautiful memory presented in the poem, and what truth in the “death’s order” lines. It’s just not right, is it? Thank you for sharing a bit of Jeff with us. xo

  3. You made the memory so real, Denise. I am sorry for this tragic loss of your nephew. The time you spent with family going back home feels like one you all so needed, even those blizzards added a sweetness to the sorrow.

  4. Oh Denise – my heartfelt sympathy to you and everyone grieving the loss of your nephew. Thank you for sharing your memory with us – in reading your poem, I have a glimpse of all you have lost.

  5. I hope that turning this loss into art has given you condolence. “death’s order in/this broken world, false again.” makes my heart ache for you.

  6. Oh, I’m so sorry.
    “…death’s order in
    this broken world, false again”
    speaks the desolation so painfully. Thank you for sharing the memory of a big, generous heart. May his memory continue to be a blessing that holds you up.

  7. So sorry for your loss, Denise. Your words show how special Jeff was to you. May sharing this special memory bring you peace.

  8. Denise, what a tribute to your nephew. I love how you warn us right up front what’s going to happen, but then you lull us into nostalgia with fabulous details like those Blizzards in every town. And then the ending, back to what we knew was coming but hoped would somehow have changed. So powerful, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  9. So sad. You have written about it so beautifully and kindly. We can join you in that memory, and savor it with you. Thank you.

  10. Denise, I’m so sorry about the passing of your nephew. This is a such an evocative tribute, and the Blizzards in summer (as good as they are!) echo the disorientation of both sudden losses.

  11. This is how we bear the pain, by painting the picture of it stroke by stroke. Wishing you and your family peace, when the time comes.

  12. So sorry, Denise! I love the details in this, and I hope it’s a comfort to people who loved him.

  13. Those last two lines are so powerful. I am so sorry for your loss. Jeff sounds like he was a wonderful person. I am glad you had time with him and hope his memory will live on. It’s a wonderful tribute poem.

  14. I’m terribly sorry that you’ve lost this precious one that made that long ago trip in the camper such a memory. What a loss. Your tribute to his memory is lovely and I’m sure a comfort to family who will read it. I find comfort in it too as an Auntie who loves her nephew.

  15. I’m so glad you could find these words as tribute to your big-hearted gentle giant, Denise. I hope it helps you, dealing with this awful pain and sadness – this abrupt goodbye – and so far from family.

  16. Denise, death is not an easy theme to discuss, especially when it is so close to home. I send my condolences and a quick uplifting of your family. Thank you for the lovely poem that shares such happy details of a family trip.

  17. So sorry to hear of your nephew Jeff’s passing, what a heartfelt tribute, those closing lines are mighty and powerful, thanks for sharing it with us Denise.

  18. So glad you shared this with us and I feel so sorry for your loss. It’s so important to remember and document, too, and never forget those special times you shared.

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