To Somehow Find Our Way

Tomorrow will mark a year since my mother’s death. I am absolutely a different person now than I was a year ago and that’s all I want to say about that, which is probably a relief to readers of this blog who have seen me through some tortured searching here.

But to paraphrase Naomi Shihab Nye (in her poem Adios), each of us has heard an adios before we knew what it meant and how very long it was for. Many of us have heard more than one such good-bye. Little by little we begin to understand. The lessons follow lessons, the silence follows sound. We must somehow find our way.

Here’s a poem I love by Stanley Kunitz that speaks of death, but as a kind of release, conveying a drowsy, comforting sense of peace and absolution.

The Long Boat by Stanley Kunitz

When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
that caring.
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
endlessly drifting.
Peace! Peace!
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn’t matter
which way was home;
as if he didn’t know
he’d loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.


Right now a storm is blowing in, with strong south winds. We’ll soon be putting up the canvas window covers to keep out sideways rain. The interior of our house, which is usually open and airy and filled with outside light, immediately closes in on us when these go up, and it will feel abruptly dark inside, the official beginning of winter. But at last we’ll be getting some of that much-needed rain. Hills will green, creeks will flow, the cycle of seasons will continue as it should. Beautiful earth.  Beautiful sky.

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2 Responses to To Somehow Find Our Way

  1. Will light a candle for your mother on her yahrzeit tomorrow, Cynthia. Thinking of you.

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