April 27 – Saying goodbye to your brother

Thursday, April 27   Kevin Embach, sj and Denise Levertov

A Detroit native, now studying theology in Boston, came home this week to bury his brother who died of an illness that lingered for decades.  We will gather for Daniel this morning in Dearborn.  When Kevin came to town, he stayed in our house as he often does.   An hour ago he and I paused as we both entered our days.  It must have been that Kevin and his brother were on my mind when I woke that I finally opened Denise Levertov’s last book, The Great Unknowing: Last Poems.  Readers of the Work Day/Hard Time list have, I suspect, gotten used to her manner long since in this blog.

I have trouble opening a new poem because so much of her work already means so much to me.   After months of nodding to the still unopened  The Great Unknowing, this morning I found another wonder on the first page. “From Below” takes me into a place, and surprises me on this day when my friend takes leave of his brother.   It is deeply refreshing for my spirit to meet wonder once again at the hand of this poet.

Best to read with pauses.

Have a blest Thursday.


john sj


Today’s Post  –  “From Below”

I move among the ankles
of forest Elders, tread
their moist rugs of moss,
duff of their soft brown carpets.
Far above, their arms are held
open wide to each other, or waving

what they know, what
perplexities and wisdoms they exchange,
unknown to me as were the thoughts
of grownups when in infancy I wandered
into a roofed clearing amidst
human feet and legs and the massive
carved legs of the table,

the minds of people, the minds of trees
equally remote, my attention then
filled with sensations, my attention now
caught by leaf and bark at eye level
and by thoughts of my own, but sometimes
drawn to upgazing-up and up: to wonder
about what rises so far above me into the light.


Denise Levertov
b. October 1923  d. December 1997


This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.