In My Sister’s Words

Sometimes I lack words to articulate the wrench in my gut.  Yesterday morning I spied a hawk on a utility pole adjacent to a farmer’s field on Jackson Slough Road just south of HIghway 12 on Andrus Island.  I stopped to photograph the bird.  When I got home and uploaded the picture, his deep stare into my lens startled me.  In that moment, I felt incredibly insignificant.  A poem by a St. Louis sister came to me.  While my feeble utterings can never rise even to the level of her poorest fare, we share a hometown so I dare to claim some connection. 

For a moment, I will let my sister’s words speak for me. 

It’s the twelfth day of the ninety-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

There Will Come Soft Rains
Sara Teasdale – 1884-1933

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.


One thought on “In My Sister’s Words

  1. Daniella Darcy Hamilton

    The poem seems to me to be a poignant and surrendering response to John McRae’s The Poppies of Flanders Fields. Where McRae’s words are a rallying cry, shaking a fist a the sky, passing a torch, Soft Rains strikes me as gentle lyrics of a lullaby. Like Taps on a lonely bugle. Her first line seems to smooth over the stinking, hummocked mash of plants, animals, and human beings that has become the ground she smells. Not all sunshine and farting unicorns. Fascism was congealing in her last years. I think she knew, but would not say, a concluding line to her poem: But not yet.
    My grandfather and his brother signed up with the Lincoln Brigade to fight Franco and Hitler in Spain. The brothers were on the way to ship out from Chicago, but my grandfather reacted badly to a vaccination and was left in a coma in Chicago for a while until his parents could bring him back home to Syracuse, Kansas. My great uncle Ray was killed in February 1937. He was one of only 96 volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade. He died in the Battle of Jarama, his body is still out there, somewhere. I’m sure he knew McRae’s poem. I’m sure he ran into that battle carrying McRae’s torch.


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