A visit from The Healing Muse: 'Afterward' and 'Your Presence'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selections are "Afterward," by Mary Beth O'Connor, and "Your Presence," by Jack Hopper. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: The memories we have of those we have loved give the Muse some heartbreakingly beautiful poems. I'd like to read two of them now. The first is by writer and retired teacher and illustrator Mary Beth O'Connor. It is called "Afterward":
As October days fall into ripen and char,
I lean toward what comes next: the darkening,
the frosts, the nights full of nearer stars.
I put on your coat, venture out, harken
to the news of changing seasons -- hushed
but for crunch of boot steps toward the last
squash to gather -- then mow dead leaves to mulch,
sweep the porch, store cushions, watch the forecast....
Down by the pond the red-winged blackbirds
have departed, no more chatter and shrill.
I'll not see them until the spring return
even though I keep the bird feeders full.
I'll bring in firewood, clean the smoke-smudged glass,
light the match -- watch flames devour what's passed.
The next is from semiretired publisher and poet Jack Hopper, who has published four poetry collections. Here is "Your Presence":
Were it not for you
I'd be sitting here alone.
You're gone and I accept it
as the end at last to so much pain
you had to suffer just to die
while others whom I've loved live on,
or pass into the ether
of distance and neglect.
Occasionally we still meet
in that variant version of reality
we call dreams and you are
quite real until the sun paws
kind and quietly at the blind,
reminding me there is another world
wherein you will not walk.
I will not hear your voice,
will not lie down beside you
or reach out for what we both desired,
as you pass by.