Witness to our sparse histories
Black bare branches lattice the dawn‘s
Grey winter sky with promises
Of backyard birdsong
When you said he loved barbecue
That‘s when I knew he‘d been alive
But after long illness was gone
—And that’s when we cried
Soon after his—her final breath
—One last breeze of soft winter snow—
Her music followed memory
Where both had to go
This is what it means to be gone—
They can no longer share a meal
Or a dance in each other’s arms
—But we can and will
Beneath branches of full birdsong
In Memoriam Gérald Chevrier (d. Dec 24, 2014) and Jacqueline Chevrier (d. Jan 10, 2015)
Depth Charge: On Saturday, Jan 24, 2014, I attended the joint memorial service for Gérald and Jacqueline Chevrier, the parents of my friend Micheline Chevrier. I had never met either of them, but through the moving eulogy delivered by Micheline, I began to understand them and the influence they had had on her. That eulogy was a gift and a revelation and my poem nothing more than its pale shadow.
Tune: “Sand of Silk-Washing Brook” (a new veraion)
On Recovering from a Long Illness
by Li Qingzhao
Beside the window, convalescent I lie reclined,
My sparse hair greying at the temples,
My mind serene as I watch a waning moon
Climb the gauze curtains.
A drink of cardamom① leaf tips boiled over a living fire
Will do for me instead of tea.
An idler’s boon: Reading leisurely propped on pillows;
Lovelier after rain:
The view outside my door.
Sweet-scented cassia blossoms,
Delicate and loving,
Leaning towards me all day long.
①A medicinal herb still needful to the poet in her convaleseenee because of its effects of dispelling stomach ache, alleviating vomiting, etc., which can, however, be counteracted by a drink of tea.
Tān pò huànxīshā Lǐ Qīngzhào
Bìng qǐ xiāoxiāo liǎng bìn huá , wò kàn cányuè shàng chuāngshā. Dòukòu lián shāo jiān shú shuǐ , mò fēn chá .
Zhěnshàng shī shū xián chù hǎo , mén qián fēngjǐng yǔ lái jiā. Zhōngrì xiàng rén duō yùn jí , mùxī huā .
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