I came across a poem recently and it, and its backstory, moved me deeply. I’ve reread it several times and have thought about it often. The poet, David Sloan, said that he wrote this poem after hearing a friend describe his experiences as a member of a group that sings people who are close to dying “over the threshold.”
This morning a friend wrote to tell of a relative’s death, a beautiful passing accompanied by love, laughter and tears. It struck me that she and her family were essentially “singing” their loved one over the threshold. I’m hoping that she reads this poem today.
by David Sloan
Everyone’s eyes are closed—
the singers, the granddaughter
asleep in a chair pulled close
to the bed, and what’s left
of a woman breathing raggedly,
straining to escape a husk.
Despite the angularity
of the room, circles appear
everywhere; a ring of family
photographs, singers surrounding
the bed, the tag around the dying
woman’s flower-stem wrist, the O
made by the dozing girl’s mouth.
The tubes have been pulled out,
machines have stopped humming.
They sing adagio, softly,
I will be your standing stone
To read the entire poem, click here.
This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Kiesha Shephard at her blog, Whispers from the Ridge. She’s shining a spotlight on one of her favorite poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar. I know I’ll be returning to her site again to reread the poem, “Sympathy,” that she is sharing there.