Gone to Feed the Roses





I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay “Dirge Without Music”
Each Memorial Day weekend without fail,
we gather with family, have lunch, reminisce,
and trek to a cemetery high above Puget Sound
to catch up with our relatives who lie there still.Some for over 100 years, some for less than a decade,
some we knew and loved and miss every day,
others not so much, unknown to us
except on genealogy charts,
their names and dates and these stones
all that is left of them:the red-haired great-grandmother who died too young,

the aunt who was eight when lymphoma took,
the Yukon river boat captain,
the logger and stump farmer,
the unmarried school teacher who hid away an oil well,
the two in-laws who lie next to each other
but could not co-exist in the same room while they lived and breathed.
Yet we know each of these
(as we know ourselves and others)
was tender and kind, though flawed and broken,
was beautiful and strong, though wrinkled and frail,
was hopeful and faithful, though too soon in the ground.

We know this about them
as we know it about ourselves:
someday we too will feed roses,
the light in our eyes transformed into elegant swirls
emitting the fragrant scent of heaven.

No one asks if we approve.
Nor am I resigned to this but only know:
So it is,  so it has been, so it will be.








In a Dark Place




Sometimes when you’re in a dark place
you think you’ve been buried,
but actually you’ve been planted.
~Christine Caine


We don’t understand
while buried in the dark,
that we rest planted in holy ground,
waiting for the wakening
that calls us forth to bloom and fruit.






Tucked Under


mcubin2…No one sees us go under.
No one sees generations churn, or civilizations.
The green fields grow up forgetting.

Ours is a planet sown in beings.
Our generations overlap like shingles.
We don’t fall in rows like hay, but we fall.
Once we get here, we spend forever on the globe,
most of it tucked under.
While we breathe, we open time like a path in the grass.
~Annie Dillard from For the Time Being

Although the generations are forgotten over time,
covered over, layer upon layer,
the brief time we are walking here
we leave behind a path,
whether straight or crooked,
that others may follow
to find their way.
May my path lead others
to something
worth the journey:
time well spent.




Lenten Grace — Forestalling Burial


..earth sifts over things. If you stay still, earth buries you, ready or not. The debris on the tops of your feet or shoes thickens, windblown dirt piles around it, and pretty soon your feet are underground..

Micrometeorite dust can bury you, too, if you wait: a ton falls on earth every hour.

Quick: Why aren’t you dusting? On every continent, we sweep floors and wipe tabletops not only to shine the place, but to forestall burial.
~Annie Dillard from For the Time Being

I conveniently thought dust came from flakes of old dead skin innocuously loosening and lazily floating away from their body of origin to accumulate on the piano, or book shelves, or hide innocently in surreptitious dust-bunny clumps under the bed.   Each house is it’s own self-sustaining dust-factory thanks to its exfoliating occupants.   I hadn’t given too much thought to all that alien dust outside our doors, much of it originating from something quite extraterrestial.

A mega-ton meteor comes roaring out of the sky, breaking sound barriers and everything around, including people, and busts into millions of microscopic particles on impact.   Now that is real DUST, overwhelming dust, a beyond-our-comprehension debris burying us from above with shock and awe brightness.

We dust compulsively in our daily lives, trying to forestall our ultimate burial, hoping to avoid the harsh reality of being covered up only to become dust ourselves someday —  all dust and nothing but dust.

Truly, in one fell swoop, we will all be changed, in a blink of any eye.   A little meteor exploding from the heavens is nothing compared to the cataclysm of the Son of Man hung, dying, buried, to be returned to dust like us all,  and yet rising to walk again.   Instead he dusts us up, shines us clean, and readies us to live when he comes again.

No more dead skin to forestall.  We will be so much more than mere dust.

Everything exists, everything is true and the earth is just a bit of dust beneath our feet.
~ W. B. Yeats

Better was it to go unknown and leave behind you an arch, then to burn like a meteor and leave no dust.
~ Virginia Woolf