Poem: Swan Song
Life is terminal. Given its expiry date
you refuse agony, choose dignity
to greet the unknown, face to face.
In the time of Covid there are no intimate goodbyes
no hearse to lead the procession.
You choose to go gently, with a fond farewell
to attend your funeral from a safe distance.
The slow cavalcade of cars past your house--
a wave of signs, the shape of a heart, a rainbow, the words we love you.
We lean through open windows, unmasked, that you might see us truly
one last time, from the roadside where you stand, smiling,
hands crossed at your breast.
So much begins and ends with a circle of friends
women who remember how to weep and rejoice
a choir learning to sing in one voice,
reshape the world. Even now,
your vibrato soars above us:
My heart is moved by all I cannot save . . .
Behind you, in sharp relief, the sun releases its last burst of energy
on the flat line of horizon. How beautiful and valiant
the force of nature, the clear-eyed vision:
A woman in her fullness, in the final throes of labour
knowing she’s exactly where she needs to be,
that her work is almost done, surrenders.
You choose to leave with grace.
You choose to go simply.
Choose to simply go.
My Heart is Moved, from the Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich.
Music by Carolyn Dade, sung by the Outloud Women’s choir of Haliburton
Swan Song appeared in the anthology, “We Are One – Poems for the Pandemic,” Bayeux Arts anthology, Fall, 2020, Calgary AB
(c) Lea Harper, 2020