Your Life


Your laughter is a rainbow shimmered bird
It sits upon my shoulder when I am hard at work
I turn to look but it has flown.

Your lifetime is a song more eager than long
I sing it absentmindedly and live your life a while
I notice, and the song ends.

Your glance is silver runners of a sleigh
It sweeps across the Christmas of my mind, with flocking bells
I shiver and silence falls.

Your beauty is a shady afternoon
I notice it beyond the door, the shoreline glittering
When I dive in, it’s cold and dark.

Your life’s a birthday gift your parents gave
You regifted it, and I am still unwrapping, slowly.
You tore the paper off too quickly, Mom.


  1. Having waited a while, not sure whether it would be appropriate to comment, I’m taking a chance.

    As a poem, it will be so much more powerful without that final stanza. I think “cold and dark” wotks as a climax and summary. The problem of relating the poem directly to the loss of a mother could be addressed in a title but I’m not even sure there is a problem. The gentle sadness of the flown bird and the song’s end do not suggest a recent loss, or a life-changing broken relationship. Next, the winter images not only call childhood to mind, they also say “family” or “home.”

    As a letter, or a kind of prayer, the original ending is essential, no question. But the first four images are so fresh, so reminiscent of a series of youthful experiences — they feel undercut by the more direct, adult, almost forcedly “poetic” but unquestionably sincere last three statements, which follow very well the pattern set up above but don’t match the contents of those stanzas in intensity or mystery.

    My only other suggestion is to drop the word “when” and let that line follow more closely the rhythm and structure of lines three, six, and nine.

    The photograph fits the fourth stanza perfectly. Is that your work too? it’s a very evocative image. OK if I save it for a later wallpaper ? (strange term, but important concept for a tablet like mine)


    • I tweaked the final stanza just a bit. I guess it will never be artistically perfect, but I couldn’t change it too much because it had a job to do.

      I can’t get rid of ‘when’ because of the meter.


      • If I’m reading Walking on Water * correctly, one’s inspirations should be trusted, whether they come from life experiences or from a faith-filled elsewhere.

        I think i was overreacting to the word “regifted.” it brought to mind family parties in which giving became a source of humor: unwanted gifts from a previous year showing up as surprises which were supposed to be funny, but seemed to me a bit hurtful. Another example of my reading poems from a limited perspective. Also, I didn’t pay attention to the possible meanings of the last line. I tore into the poem too quickly, even though I had told myself not to.

        *Madeleine L’Engle ( Yes, I’ve been reading her poems as well as her thoughts about the connection between faith and Art. Thanks again for the introduction!)


Comment rules: name and email required; website not required. No more than 2 links, please. Markdown is enabled. Enclose with 1 asterisk for italics, or 2 asterisks for bold.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.