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That Is All

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.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer