Landscape, with a Glimpse of the Soul as it Leaves the Body

This entry is part 17 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011


My girlfriend, telling of her mother’s
last moments, describes the gaunt
frame they prop on pillows in the living

room, windows they slide open to a view
of mountains behind a curtain of gold leaves.
The cancer has chiseled her features close

to bone, but still she struggles to listen.
Hearing is one of the last senses to go;
and so they shush the relatives

that have come to start chants of ritual
mourning at her side. A son-in-law
slides a bow across a halting serenade

of viola strings. Grandchildren whisper
in her ear, urging her to the crossing.
And at the end, my friend swears

there is a split-second glimpse of wisping
breath— leaving the white-throated body
behind, slight tear like a wing in the air.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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  1. I love how you transmogrified those white-throated sparrow songs (which are, of course, very sad-sounding).


  2. Luisa, This is a lovely description of something familiar to me. I have also had this experience. At the time of a death, something lifts away.


  3. Thanks, everyone… It’s been tough finding untrammelled time lately, to come to VN to write (we had the week-long ODU Literary Festival last week, and then guests at home for 4 days since Saturday). So hectic! And therefore I am doubly glad to be writing here.


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