I’ve been asked to lead the OSU Memorial Service tonight, and to come up with some opening remarks. While I was at Kenyon, I got in the habit of writing poems to serve as invocations and benedictions. Here’s what I’ve written for tonight:
There can be loneliness in grief.
People pass us on the street
never knowing how closely we
hold to all our memories.
The past means more to us then them;
the past is where our loved ones lived.
We remember how hair smelled
on a child’s head after a bath,
or how a whole small body shook
with laughter, and we shook too,
our bodies moving with their joy.
Now the rooms in which they lived
are transformed by emptiness,
the children who decorated
the walls, who filled the empty air
with their sounds, their smells, are gone.
They outgrew their child selves, and we
follow them on pilgrimage,
to the places they went without us,
and seek sympathy from faces
that were familiar to them,
though not to us. If each person
is made by the people they know,
then remembrance must include
the world they knew without us.
Their lives gave us to each other.
Let our memories be released
and, set free, release our loneliness.