LINDA, THE SHAMAN PASSING
We are watching Linda flicker
between living and dying
frail, morphine fogged she reclines
in her hospital bed at the head of the stairs
planning her new kitchen cabinets.
Her smile is for us to see
to say she accepts our love.
She’s the shaman sometimes, or not
the force is dimmed the light remains
clear sometimes, her poetry seems
to have been written.
Do we grieve, or celebrate
the planned on positive future.
We will celebrate today for tomorrow
none can see longer than this
she is thinning each week
her smile broadens across her thin cheeks
wider each week it seems
as her faith belays our fearful
expectation, her strength flickering
each day toward tomorrow.
The poet has become bird
light, translucent reaching up
the presence of invisible wings
golden, radiant in the faith in nature
there is no betrayal, no flinching
no crying, the bear stalks about
the spirit cave containing her
We can’t see these as we sulk
about in the shadow of our fears.
The Crane dances with the snake
overland to rippling waters
of the mother’s fecund ocean
we travel in the lower world to
seed the ending start beginning
her drum beat leads the passage
of the teacher, of her living
power animal, to come to
the lady of grace, Mary.
“Barnard’s windows open into life
a hard cold thing inside me melts.
I can see all the beauty within
the violet iridescence of light
sliding past the dread night sweat
I call for help as the stream
is strong at the crossing. Weak in fear
stroke with me together
at this crossing I am afraid.
“I can see the crossing, that is my job
come help me stroke, share these berries
the spring sweetness, the taste of life.”
Kent Bowker 6/18/2000
On casting Linda’s ashes into the sea
at Halibut Point,
Linger the sound of our hearts,
beating, sad, deep and slow.
Remember the circle of hands
the touch rippling one to another.
Remember the sea wind shine
illuminating our emotion,
gulls overhead cawing,
hard lucent shore rocks.
Linger the sound of the sea,
linger the tears and sorrow,
as the slow drum beats.
All of us will eventually come
to this hard chiseled space,
a quarry for pavers and headstones
the place where her soul’s ashes reside,
floating, leaving and returning on the tide.
Kent Bowker 6/1/2015 (from 7/9/2000)
Kent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics. His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past. He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.