“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
– James Joyce, The Dead, 1914
The veil has thinned
and burned away
into broad daylight.
It isn’t cold enough for snow:
not that it ever is nowadays
the idea of snow
being ‘general all over Ireland’
distant and magical.
Distant and magical like the past,
when as children we celebrated
‘Snow days.’ Now we mourn the loss
of the sparkling glitter of frost
breath pealing out in smoke rings:
The dark half of the year begins in
late September for me
when my Grandmother passed through the veil
I wasn’t there, but glad I’d had the chance to say goodbye
Years earlier, my Mother
passed over the Stygian river
in early October.
Now, we start the journey to December
when my Sister died
most recent of all the partings:
still too soon.
There’s no shielding me from death
I experienced it too early
perhaps that’s why
I can look the death of the planet straight in the eye:
it’s not the death of the whole planet, really
the rock will stay
the heaving heart of iron
the sea, most probably won’t dry.
New life will spring
out of the ashes of our ignorance
new creatures will be born
perhaps blessed with a new intelligence.
between the land of the living and the dead
we learn the value of a universal currency
and call it love.
© 2021 experimentsinfiction.com. All Rights Reserved.
Image by Pixaline from Pixabay
Written for earthweal
This week, Brendan has given us the following challenge:
Let’s invite the wide community of the lost — family members and their ancestors, Paleolithic kills and animals gone extinct, meteors which travelled from the remote universe to burn up in our atmosphere, sandy beaches composted of the shells of sea-life, ghostly coral savannahs, the life we consumed with last night’s dinner. Let’s see what an assembly we can summon, and by doing so, experience the incredible dimensions we share.
For this challenge, celebrate ALL SOULS.
Today, in Slovenia, it’s ‘Dan Mrtvi’ or ‘Day of the Dead,’ relatives will visit the graves of loved ones and place candles at the headstones. I have no loved ones buried here, so I remember them in poetry instead:
A beautiful poem. Your writing conjures great atmosphere. This feels wise and ethereal. If our currency is love then you are wealthy as you are full of loved and beloved.
Heart-achingly beautiful in its sadness, but you leave us with hope. This is the first poem I read this morning – all was quiet around me – I think it will stay with me for a while.
Thank you, Marion: I wrote it in a moment of quiet reflection 🙏
Carrying the dead is a burden – a snow (Joyce’s sense of it its utterly true, now wonder he travelled with it across the waters of Ulysses into a Wake) that falls on living and dead, in that vale between them, weighing the words with both light and heaviness. How present your grandmother, mother and sister in this carrying song, along with the burden of a dying earth and one’s own aging on. Yet what grace in that too, a heft in the heart. Great response to the challenge and happy All Souls Ingrid –
Thank you, Brendan: and to you 🙏
Oh wow Ingrid .. you’ve welded so many emotions together through your deep and dark imagery, that I am almost overwhelmed at how powerfully your piece gathered momentum to a finale crescendo.. superbly executed …
Thank you, Ivor…an emotional kind of day 🕯🙏🕯
Yes … we have these emotional days …
The ability to carry your dead with true sight is a sign of a maturity. This in itself might offer a glimpse of the kind of new intelligence that will, I hope, emerge in the future we cannot see.
There is always hope!
Ingrid, a beautiful remembrance! This is the first poem I have read this morning and it touched my heart! Those I have lost over the years are always with me.Their memory lights my life like the candles in your lovely photo. <3
I've never seen a passenger pigeon, a dodo, an ivory-billed woodpecker a Carolina parakeet, or a mastadon, but I am sorry that they are gone. I hope the same will never be said of the beautiful animals of today. We have herds of bison in the wild and domesticated. Bald eagles are back in 49 US States. They and I do not miss DDT. I would miss the Monarch butterflies and the lightening bugs if they disappear. I hope the new, more northerly sequoia groves are here 4,000 years from now, even as the planet warms and the seas rise.
That universal love you mention is a currency you possess in abundance.Your intelligence and love shine in your poems, and that is why I love your work. Take care of yourself! <3
Thank you for this kind and beautiful comment, Cheryl. I am pleased my work touches you ❤️
You capture it all with emotional depth. Beautiful, Ingrid. (K)
Thank you Kerfe.
Wonderful poem Ingrid. Atmospheric.
Thank you so much Gabriela ❤️🙏🌹
My pleasure 🌸🌹🌺
Achingly beautiful, Ingrid. Made me quite emotional. Love that except by Joyce.
*excerpt by Joyce. 😖
Thank you, Punam! It’s one of my favorite prose passages ❤️
It is. You are welcome. ❤️
A beautiful, thoughtful poem, Ingrid. You carry us across time and space with your words.
What an insight-giving journey, Ingrid… love the way you share your personal story in this one… heartfelt condolences for your losses… and love the beautiful lines of hope at the end… your deep caring for your family, life and the planet rings throughout. Much love to you, dear poet! 🙏🧡🔆
Thank you so much! Sending love to you also ❤️
Such a deep sadness resonates through your poem. The last verse offers redemption for those brave enough to reach for it.
Thank you Suzanne!
Your poem touched the saddest part of me. I’ve had many losses, am no stranger to grief. Your words about how our planet may survive our abuse made me consider how the planet may have to go through a living death – not thriving, barely existing.
Thank you so much for your kind words 🙏
Wow do I love this poem, and can I ever relate to it. You have experienced big losses, and how I love your closing lines when you turn that grief into love…….Just wonderful! I depressed myself with my poem. Yours lifted me up. Reminded me about that universal currency.
Thank you so much Sherry: I’m glad to hear it lifted you up!
Deeply reflective, Ingrid. ❤ The pain of loss flowing from the local, to the personal, to the global.
Your photo and Joyce excerpt frame your poem beautifully.
in California (once a Mexican territory), Dia de Los Muertos festivities are ubiquitous this day, respectfully giving reverence to those since departed. a worthy day, I think. ~
So beautiful and achingly sad. Thank you for sharing. xx
You’re welcome Lindi
Your heart and love shine through every word and line in your poem and penetrates deeply. Each word so perfectly chosen and takes o a time travel adventure to then and now of what we left behind and now are memories burned in ashes. Your gift in poetry and love of your heart surpassed any visit that could have been made. Beautifully composed Ingrid. Happy Dan Mrtvi Ingrid.💖
Hvala (thank you!) Cindy ❤️❤️❤️
A poignant and far ranging poem, Ingrid, beautifully written…JIM
Thank you JIM!
Superb excerpt from Joyce. Death is part of living and so is love….sort of intertwined…lovely poem.
Thank you 🙏
Great poem. And stunning black and white graveyard picture.
Not a big fan of Joyce — but love ‘The Dead’. Is that your poem under it? Really beautiful.
It’s hard not to love that story. And yes, it’s my poem, thank you!