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3:15 Experiment Poetry: for my mom’s memorial

August 8, 2010

Poetry from the 3:15 Experiment
August 8, 2010

Today is my mom’s memorial.
It’s been 10 days since she passed away
and each day it’s as unbelievable
as the last that she has died
and that we are celebrating her life
and not her birthday today.

This week has been spent on words for her
finding the right words to describe her life
for the death certificate, newspaper,
obituary, this program.

The words stick in my throat
and the more that I grapple with them
the more it seems I should understand
her life and what to say about it.
But it doesn’t feel that way.

I lost two friends and writing colleagues
in 24 hours–my mother, Suzanne Lawrence
and my friend Paul Squires.
The loss of my readers
two people I regularly turned to
for feedback on my writing
for encouragement & advice
I have felt acutely this week as
I struggled with this greatest writing challenge.

The day she died, I told her about Paul and I wanted to
share his last poem with her, Gene Kelly Tattoo

Last  Friday night, when I realized that my mother has passed away
the words of the Irish playwright John Millington Synge
from his classic tragedy “Riders to the Sea”
came to mind:

“No man at all can be living
forever, and we must be satisfied.”

It is hard to be satisfied
when my mom had so much to give
we all want more.

And that is how I realized how well
my mom embodied the late fragment
written by American poet and short story author Ray Carver:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

She truly was beloved on this earth.
This may not have been how she saw herself
but it is how we saw her, how we knew her.

Since 2001, I have been waking up
every night in August at 3:15am
to write as part of an international
conceptual poetry event called the 3:15 Experiment.

I have written often about my mother
and this past week is no exception.
I wrote what I am reading now at 3:15am
in the cold foggy dark of a summer night.
I have shared some of these poems here
& if I can I’d like to read a few now.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2010 6:14 pm

    This is what you read at the memorial today, I take it? Just lovely, Gwen. I got shivers reading it.

    I’ve been thinking about this “unfinished business” of life ever since my Father died, and even more recently due to the death of poets Gabrielle Bouliane and Paul Squires, because they were both still so young.

    Life is always unfinished business. No one leaves with life wrapped up in a bow, all done, cleaned up. We disappear and all our intentions and possibilities are still here, because they are infinite, as love is, as the ability to give is. And for those who give so much, the world seems emptier without their gifts.

  2. August 8, 2010 6:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Gwen. I can see your light reflected in the photos of your mother.

  3. August 9, 2010 9:20 pm

    so sorry ap, so sorry for your losses. our losses. everyones losses these recent days. tis very beautifully written. and memorable. one never knows what sorrow may be around the corner. remember there are still joys to come again one day. hugs and admiration for your courage.

  4. August 14, 2010 4:43 pm

    Vibrant and sensitive, a beautifully written piece.
    Take care of yourself xx

  5. Starr permalink
    August 15, 2010 3:45 am

    Sorry for your loss, Gwendolyn. I found my dad passed away this mourning, his spirit is somewhere else now. He escaped the hospital for a couple days at the end thanks to hospice so at least he got his wish to go home. Thanks for the inspiration, Pop, you sure did it your way!

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