Instructions From Chris

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The memorial service for Chris was Saturday.  Over two years ago when she was planning her service, she asked me to read a poem as part of it.  I did.

Instructions From Chris

“You could use this poem,” my sister says
when she asks me to read at her memorial.

She’s reread my book, found more darkness
than she wants, she knows people will cry

but even so, she’d prefer a celebration, more
ideas than despair. “This one towards the end,”

when grief first starts to curve away
and my sisters appear, musical, muscular hawks,

long, strong wings, a slice of sun.
I understand. She wants her own poem.

She is second of four, the smarter, prettier one
I could never catch, a life in preview.

But I do no better than what’s she’s written
herself; the space created when a book is lifted

from the table, an opening that fills with shadow
and chance, quickening, quiet. I delete, start over,

come back to her smile as she carries her hope
and illness before her, a globe in her hands.

I toast bread, open a jar of her strawberry jam, ruby
sugar, red as magic slippers, no place, home.


About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
This entry was posted in Family, Grief, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Instructions From Chris

  1. Pat Fargnoli says:

    what a beautiful poem! and tribute.

  2. Beautiful. Chris is proud.

  3. Nancy Stewart says:

    You did it, Grace, again, but this time for Chris. Thank you for sharing. It helps us all; your sharing.

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