Resting Places

Let’s speak of life, he says,
of breath and heartbeats.
But I can only think of dying—
no, not dying, but after the dying,
after the great questions
have all been posed,
after the immense darkness—
that some call light—
has been not only faced
but swum through,
and what is left is only biology,
the weight of the organic matter
that presses to the earth when dreams
and air no longer inflate it.
To dust you shall return
the holy texts warn or promise,
and so, determined, we strain
muscles and touch real soil to prove
at least this one sermon true.
To dust, and worms,
and compost and tough roots
tugging at clumps
of mud, you shall return,
we return you now. We tuck you into
that cold earth and cover you with
heavy humus blankets,
and now the day is over.
Now, the day is done.

My brother’s young body,
skinny already
from too much chemo,
too little appetite,
was buried in the cold earth
of a Canadian prairie.
It was May, the ground
still barely thawed
from the long winter,
the grass still brown,
those few dark branches
still bare.
I don’t remember
watching the box
that held his bones,
his translucent eyelids,
his narrow fingers,
being lowered into that dark hole,
but I imagine the scene now
as unbearably stark,
the square lines of the
white church surrounded by fields,
those small grave stones
lined up in rows,
German hymns sung
by faltering voices.
This is the anthem of brokenness:
Farmers and housewives
sending words of stubborn religion
up to a silent sky,
while they watch the land they cleared
for wheat and canola
swallow their fiercest love.

2 thoughts on “Resting Places


    Oh Kirsten..
    What a gut-wrenching, loving tribute in honour of your brother and others who have left us way too soon..The verse that touches me most is this..”the weight of the organic matter
    that presses to the earth when dreams
    and air no longer inflate it.” How true..Blessings on you, dearheart, as you continue to write such touching words..

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