Scott Wilson ~
Take her breath, still her heart, and
clean her body out with a spoon.
Wring her spirit in the river and
place her eyes beside the moon.
Fold up her memories in a dresser and
frame her smile in the sky.
Turn up her laughter in the darkness and
let her freckles start to fly.
Smoke her love out with tobacco and
sow her kindness into the seas.
Diffuse her voice upon the mountains and
pollinate her sorrow with the bees.
Release her pain with a drumming and
scatter her kisses on a birth.
Sprinkle her tears upon the roses and
stretch her womb around this earth.
That is all, God.
That is all.
We can do the rest.
About the poet:
Scott Wilson is a palliative-care and hospice chaplain in Corvallis, OR. He writes to get the sadness out–as best he can–as well as to make sense of this business of living and dying. He has been published in chaplaincy journals, and in 2016 he won the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Creative Arts Contest for poetry. He has a passion for leading and participating in writing groups designed for healthcare clinicians and other helping professionals. He firmly believes that the world is changed through small, almost unnoticeable, acts of kindness.
About the poem:
“This poem was written in response to caring for a dying 101-year-old spitfire of a women who, although her spirit was ready, could not die. She prayed every night for her death, but it did not come. She slowly lost her ability to cope with this disconnect and lived out most of her final days in a highly anxious and distressed state. Although I’m not very religious–a bit odd for a chaplain, I know–I wrote this prayer hoping that her God might hear it and speed up the process. It didn’t work, but every time I reread it I think of her, and this makes me happy in some way.”
Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer
11 thoughts on “That Is All”
A wonderful poem. I work as a storyteller-in-residence in the palliative unit at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. Please send me your contact, Scott.
Thank you Scott for sharing this beautiful poem. Very timely as the anniversary of my mum’s death approaches. I wished for her similar intentions as in your poem but without the beauty of your words.
I note in your bio that you are interested in writing groups for health practitioners. You may want to have a look at The Examined Life Conference, being held in Iowa in October – https://examinedlifeconference.com/ I am confident you would find your tribe there 🙂
Caring for first my mother and then my father led me to meet many hospice chaplains. They, like you, are special individuals who know how to listen–and what words to say. Thank you for devoting your life to helping people at the end of theirs; thank you for being there for grieving families; and thank you for sharing your beautiful poetry.
Thank you for this poem. I want it read at my own funeral.
As others have written, I add my voice in praise. This is a wonderful poem and prayer. It speaks to the human reader and to the creator of the universe
such a beautifully sad poem, but hopeful too. there is a lovely depth and knowing in these words. thank you.
Love the poem——I am a nurse and have been through recents deaths of my mother, my husband and now my best friend. As well, I have taken care of many patients. It is difficult to watch human beings waiting to pass away. Prayer is our only path we can take.
This is just beautiful. I hope my loved ones sing it to the heavens when I am dying.
And I will sing it to my Mom, who died as winter was coming on, and who flew to the harvest moon.
Just beautiful and evocative. Needn’t say more. Gratitude
This is so lovely – thank you for sharing and for the deep work you obviously do.
This is incredible.