Monday, February 8, 2016


Today would have been my sister's eighty-first birthday. Readers may recall that she died last May, quite suddenly, just a couple of weeks after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I celebrate her life today, and the love for each other that it took so long to find... I have a few thoughts and memories of her today.


She stands
at the kitchen counter,
calm, slightly stooped
by her eighty years of life,
intent on the task
at hand, chopping ginger
into tiny fragments
for the porridge.

"Oh, good morning,"
she says, brightly,
with that sweet, sharp
edge of politeness
that we learned as children
in the rectory. "I think,"
she says, "it's going
to be a lovely day."


at the rim, and sturdy
at the base, they
run with color. White
is the foundation;
then come
the glazes, sparkling,
in lava flows,
pooling in places,
finding their path.


I have the feeling
that her spirit fled
on her death, to join
the white lions
in Africa, that she
loved--a dying
species, graceful,
pure, their own
wild spirit tamed
by a kind of inner
discipline, a confidence
that power is there
when needed.
I see her roaming
the plains with them,
joyfully, at peace.


She kept a room
for her grandson
in her house.
He called her Goggy
from his youngest
days. I know
that she adored
the child in him;
later, the growing
man he'd come
to be, not quite,
before she died.
She gave him
more generously
of herself than
any other living
being, opening
her heart in ways
she could find
hard with others,
holding, always,
some part back;
call it "reserve,"
a place she kept
with determination
for herself.


robin andrea said...

Beautiful poems and remembrances. I like her spirit with her much-loved white lions, such a lovely thought.

Jean said...

So lovely, Peter. Such a vivid, light-filled picture of who Flora was. The best kind of memories and memorial. Thanks for sharing these.


Very moving Peter. My memories of Flora only go to very early days when she put up with you and me, both rascals, teasing her as your elder sister. We cannot have yet reached our teens. Very happy memories, and of your dear Mum and Dad, Peggy and Harry. Here in Barcelona at our St Geroge's John Chapman the new Chaplain opened up a Memorial Book for names of loved ones past to be entered. I happened to be the first to enter names, and I wrote in Peggy and Reverend Harry Clothier "my Mum and Dad in EnglandÂȘ.!!

PeterAtLarge said...

How very lovely that you entered their names, Michael, and that you thought of them as you did. Thank you for that sweet and loving act!

Gregg Chadwick said...

Gorgeous poems Peter. They carry both loss and joyful memory!

Katherinewitty said...

Sorry to hear about Flora. I remember her from our early youth. Lovely poem you wrote.
About your head aches I would try to remember when first you had them and what the issue was then, Ceansing the emotional cause you can cleanse the physical ailment......not easy but I find the Buddhist teaching very helpful and efficient ....
"Tayatha om Bekhatze Bekhade Maha Bekhadze Bekhadze Randzaya Samugate Soha"
Medicine Buddha mantra......