Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Oh, Who'd Leave This World

Nancy Nielsen died May 23, 2016 after a long period of declining health.  I had the great privilege of caring for her – my life partner, colleague and dear, dear friend – through her final years, and of being with her when she passed.  She wrote this poem on April 8, after one of many temporary recoveries from a succession of setbacks.  Somehow, we both knew it would be her last.

Nancy left behind a number of unpublished poems, some of which I will post to this blog from time to time, along with my own as they occur.  For those interested, here is her obituary .

– Alan Brooks

Oh, Who’d Leave This World

When the wind
                       that wind
wind from the sea
                       salt and wrack
lifting the meadow grass
ghosting with fog

or where
racket of crows
                       caw and caw
                       into the wind

Who’d set aside the book
                       this book any book
so filled with life
                       book on the table

Side by side
                        we talk of the stories
wind from the south

The wind outside
                       salt marsh wind
                       wind from the sea


Saturday, January 30, 2016

5:30 a.m. \ On The Other Side

Nancy: A dream, and slow rising light, and past and present and unexpected future, and out of that this day, this reality.

5:30 a.m.

bitter greens and fried pies

paw paws and fish sputtering
misty lake iron pan

Granny, Aunt Nannie, Papa
dawns noons twilight

and this is dawn
another dawn

I think of food
I think of being fed

how food is memory
how food is love

I'm still alive, I say

I'm still alive
shall we have tea?

Alan: When National Public Radio revived the old “This I Believe” program, among the short statements of faith was one that struck me as unarguably sensible: “I believe in biology.” 

On The Other Side

When it seemed clear you were dying
we could only live in the moment –
in and for it.

Death, which had always been invisibly with us,
became manifest now in the chairs,
the table, the rug: all the furnishings of our room.

We opened the door called “hope” and stepped through,
closing it gently behind us.
We saw we were in the same room as before.
The door had locked.  We could not go back.

So we took up our lives again,
moment by moment, as many moments as there might be –
there, here, there –
hope a door we could no longer open,
no longer had need for.