October 31 – remembering the dead & the eve of All Saints

originally posted January 23, 2017

Perhaps this Denise Levertov poem came to mind because I flew into JFK Saturday, braved Long Island’s expressways with their too tight turns matched by slightly-too-narrow lanes, to spend time with a lifelong soul friend, Sr. Consuela de Biase, csj.   Connie has become frail, like the ancient poet in today’s poem.  She misses nothing, I realized, but you have to lean in close to hear;  worn with fatigue, she whispers, and pauses to breathe.  We visited three times  (c. 90 minutes,  25 minutes, and 4 or 5 when we said goodbye before I headed back to JFK early Sunday).  I love it that the 40 mile drive on the parkway was wearing;  it reminds me that those miles and our 3 conversations are of a piece with decades of mutual listening, the fabric of Connie’s life.  She whispered her last words to me,  “you do so many beautiful things.”  I whispered back, “I love you Connie.”

In today’s poem Denise Levertov writes of an ancient poet whose frail strengths remind me of Connie.   Today is the last day of October, “The Day of the Dead and the Eve of All Hallows” {i.e., Halloween} might tempt you to open your window or step outside so you can read “In Love” bathed in beauty, breathing a little too.

Have a blest day,


johns sj


Today’s Post   “In Love”

Over gin and tonic (an unusual treat) the ancient poet
haltingly —            not because mind and memory
falter, but because language, now,
weary from so many years
of intense partnership,
comes stiffly to her summons,
with unsure footing —
recounts, for the first time in my hearing, each step
of that graceful sarabande, her husband’s
last days, last minutes, fifteen years ago.

She files her belongings freestyle, jumbled
in plastic bags — poems, old letters, ribbons,
old socks, an empty picture frame;
but keeps her fifty years of marriage wrapped, flawless,
in something we sense and almost see —
diaphanous as those saris one can pass through a wedding ring.

Denise Levertov  1923 – 1997

Connie laughing,  smiling,  contemplative  August 2006

p.s. many pictures and a few objects from artists on & around the closet door in my room — some of the pics are old,  some are recent, to me all are alive with beauty

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