Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Being pure spirit

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday, she would have been fifty-eight.  It is now five months since she died.  I think of her most of the time; more, in truth, than I did when she was alive, perhaps I didn't need to do so then.  But that's fine, she ain't heavy.  The thought of her is there in more or less everything I do, but I don't have to keep making reference to it.  I've written bits and pieces about her, but I've mostly been content to let them sit and settle for a bit. However, perhaps now's the time to start going over some of them.  I've tinkered around with this one for a while, taking a bit in here and letting a bit out there... 

Someone who isn't conventionally religious, but who I suppose believes quite a number of things I can safely say I don't, wrote me a very kind message shortly after my sister died, in which she said she had become 'pure spirit'.  I usually mistrust that kind of thing, whether from mainstream religion or its alternatives, as rather glib and precious, but I found I was comfortable with this, perhaps partly because she also said a number of other things which were intelligent and not glib, but also it just felt OK.  My sister had little time for anything that might be called religious or spiritual.

Being pure spirit

Being pure spirit suits you, it's what you did so well.
Why must we get so heavy when we die?
What's mortal remains with a weighty horror, then
a dreadful gravity of absence.

But you would make light of even this, and,
if we chose, with nothing mystical, 
mysterious, spooky, kooky, 
fey or strange, and - heaven forbid! -
nothing religious, your spirit could continue  
with us.  If we chose.  You know,

the one which used to ask 'Well, in the end,
does it really matter?'  Which shrugged and said
'That kind of stuff - like God, and dogs,
and fussing over food - is just not something that I do.
I'll leave that to the rest of you!' And smiled.

The one which used so easily that well-worn phrase
that women - wives and mothers, sisters, aunts - 
will always say, but won't quite always mean - you did:

I want you to be happy.


There will be a gathering in Sydney tomorrow of friends and family who are in that part of the world to mark her birthday, so I'm putting this up now as they are ten hours ahead of us there.  Tom, Molly and I are off tomorrow to our beautiful retreat on the Bay of Morlaix, which, by serendipitous, or whatever, grace, we happened on when we felt the need to get away back then in April.  We loved it so much we booked these few days for Tom's birthday, which is the day after my sister's, on Friday. I am intensely, deeply, quietly (fairly quietly anyway!), full of joy and delight at the thought of being there again.

See you next week.  


Anonymous said...

What a lovely 'Ode to a Sister'.

Zhoen said...

I would have loved your sister.

Roderick Robinson said...

I envy you your colloquial, conversational abilities. It's the right tone for a chat - an unheavy chat - to fit the way you both were. Far harder, I imagine, than something Tennysonian but then for this there is an obligation to work hard. So that you can come up with "fussing over food" and avoid mystery, feyness, etc. Lightness is hard. You got it.

Rouchswalwe said...

I read your poem again this morning, sweet Lucy, and am grateful for the inspiration of dear siblings in our lives.

The Crow said...

Happy re-Birthday, Allison!

Fire Bird said...

enjoy Kerbiriou (o)

Julia said...

Said just right, and something to return to, as your poems so often are.

Enjoy your retreat and happy birthday to Tom too!

YourFireAnt said...

I know where you are. Yesterday would've been my brother's 59th. But we had to eat the burnt sugar cake without him.

Hold on.


YourFireAnt said...

Check it out.


20th Century Woman said...

Oh, yes. "If we choose." That's it, isn't it?

Dick said...

There's a wonderful lightness of touch to the poem, so appropriate to its measured contemplation of spirit. And I love the way in which, following the line 'a dreadful gravity of absence' (superbly evocative of the dragging weight of bereavement), the voice does everything it can to respect the requirements of she who 'would make light of even this'.

It's a terrific poem, Lucy. I hope that in the writing of it some of that gravity lifted a little.

Kelly said...

I really appreciate this poem. I have been reflecting on a couple of people who have released from the physical and they way you described it as pure spirit seem very accurate.

James said...

I love that question in the 2nd line. It reminds me of my grandmother who would have likely hated the thought of everyone feeling sad at her death. I suspect that's not uncommon.

the polish chick said...


zephyr said...

wonderful, Lucy.

Rosie said...

(ox) that is a stone with a kiss on the side of it...

marly youmans said...

The startling part of being only an occasional visitor to blogs as life gets busier is that great changes happen--in the last one I visited, a mother had died. Strange, so ethereal in some ways, these words on the air. But bound to time.

Sympathy. I'm glad your words here have found some lightness of being.