Slice of Life – Losing and Finding

May 21, 2024

I’ve missed the last few Tuesdays. There is a lot I would have been writing had I been here. First and most significantly, my older sister, Judi, died at the end of April. She wasn’t sick, but she just didn’t wake up that last Sunday morning. It’s been a month to think about her and my other siblings, about death and life. Next, I have been in the midst of our final home remodeling projects, new bedroom and bathroom flooring and new closet space in our bedroom.

In honor of Judi and all my siblings, I’ve been writing poems inspired by my siblings for the month of May. On Sunday morning, I sat on the back porch and felt like I was going to church with the birds, reptiles, and mammals that surrounded me. Chipmunks and squirrels scurried about grabbing dropped bird seed. The majestic jackrabbit sauntered in before darting off. The quail, seemed so anxious for their bevies to fill with the first hatching of summer. Lizards did pushups in the sunshine. Finches, thrashers, jays, and doves all shared the bird feeder together. While I sat in this nature church, I wrote a poem using a line from a Jack Gilbert poem.

We watch the quail as they
are ready for the first hatching.
Gleaners gathering seeds and also us
who watch them, noticing their
fill of the allurement of
the living. No need for a
barn or coop to raise their young.
For the green light of
the fragments of consequence, we
winter-on through loss and ends.
That is why what
comes next is all a gift
on this mystic mansion of creation.

A golden shovel from Jack Gilbert‘s poem “Moreover” with this striking line: “We are gleaners who fill the barn for the winter that comes on.”

13 thoughts on “Slice of Life – Losing and Finding

  1. So much more, in my opinion, is felt through ideas shared in a poem. This is definitiely the case with your slice today. So sorry for your lose. Somehow, you captured all the grief that comes with losing a sibling as well as the hope felt when nature sings around us. Keep finding comfort through writing nature. Thanks for sharing at this hard time.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Is this the sister who was up on the roof with you not long ago?
    This is a beautiful rumination, with your mind wandering in such a beautiful way. I love your observations and description of your “nature church.” We should all look outside where we are so reverentially. and I also love the idea of using the month to write poems about your siblings. and the golden shovel poem- lovely. It always amazes me how golden shovel poems, sort of a silly-seeming prompt, end up as wonderful, fresh poetry.

  3. Navigating grief is so hard. I am sorry for you, but in your attention and poetry, I feel hope that is living strong in your soul. “what comes next is all a gift” Every day is a gift. I am living in grief, too, and I’d rather not. It’s part of our life on earth. Poetry is healing. Keep writing!

  4. I missed you, Denise, so knowing you would find comfort in the arms of your fellow poets, I had the sense to visit your post last Friday. I am so sorry about the loss of your sister, sudden and devastating. The poetry you are writing lately is moving beyond measure. Being one of six, I cannot revisit the poems without weeping. Thinking about you‚ sincerely. Peace and love.

  5. I am SO sorry about your sister. Your poem is beautiful and seems at first glance to be about nature, and wildlife but in actuality has much deeper meaning.

  6. Denise,
    Your sister’s death—coming so suddenly and unexpectedly—is a lot for you to process. I don’t know that we’re ever completely prepared for loss, but to have no warning must be even harder. Hugs to you, my friend. Your poem today is magnificent. It’s cathartic, ethereal, perfect. I want to read all your sibling poems in one sitting. I’m looking forward to that and think an uninterrupted reading will be good for my soul. And congratulations on getting to the end of your home renovations. What’s next?

  7. Dear Denise – I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your dear sister, Judi. I love that you are celebrating your sibling in poetry – “We are gleaners who fill the barn for the winter that comes on.” Yes – it’s best to prepare – even though we can never quite prepare for a sister’s death. Wishing you find peace in beautiful memories.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful slice. I hope that writing helps you find peace in the memories.

  9. Such a beautiful, poignant idea to write poems about your siblings all month; I am so sorry for your loss, Denise. I imagine that such writing is a balm for grief. I loved your observations about all the different animals, your ‘church surrounding,’ especially this line, “Lizards did pushups in the sunshine.” I enjoyed your golden shovel, and see you working through grief – “we/
    winter-on through loss and ends.” Beautiful slice.

  10. Denise, I’m sorry for the loss of your sister. I know that is a difficult journey especially when it was so unexpected. I’ll be praying for your family. The idea of writing sibling poems is a powerful way to invite healing and connection. You are on my mind, friend!

  11. Denise, it takes me longer these days to post and comment – daily life can be full to overflowing. I remember your sister’s sudden passing during VerseLove. My heart aches for you. Writing poems about your siblings is an amazing way to work through the heavy knots of grief. These lines of your beautiful poem move me deeply:

    For the green light of
    the fragments of consequence, we
    winter-on through loss and ends.

    It is so true. I so understand “the fragments of consequence”. The ending lines about the gift of life on this “mystic mansion of creation” also speak to my soul. All in all a celebration of life: appreciating enduring, overcoming. I love that you composed this in a “nature church” with birds for company. Their presence offers such healing… as do your words. I draw strength from them. I am also struck by the parallel of remodeling a house and remaking life after loss. Please know how much my heart is with you, friend <3

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