Friday, November 04, 2005

Aunt Irene's Poetry

I didn't know my aunt well but I always found her fascinating. Among other thing, she was a weaver and a poet and lived in what seemed to me the wild west of Idaho. The funny thing is I actually grew up thinking she was a witch; not the nasty evil kind but rather the nature linked sort who mixes herbs and tree bark to protect people from the woes of the world. I don't know if she was actually into witchy things but for some reason she struck me so. Irene was a year or two older than my mother and the freer of the two spirits.

The last time I saw Irene was when she came from her home in Idaho to visit my mother in the hospital. My mother, whose name was Rita, had Alzheimer's and was in a steep decline. Irene had come out for what we all knew would be the last visit. I can still see the two of them sitting in the hallway of the hospital with my mother's hand in hers saying "Ree, it's Reen, Ree it's Reen". Irene was using pet names from long ago in an attempt to cut the fog of Alzheimer's. It was sad seeing two elderly sisters like this. One lost with a broken mind and the other reaching out trying to make a final connection.

This nostalgic post started because I recently found a collection of my aunts poems on the web. I think they're pretty exceptional. In the following poem Irene used symbols from her weaving work in an autumnal meditation on the shortness of life. If you like this, you can follow the link above and read some more. You have to scroll down a little before you get to Irene's but they're well labeled.


There will be time when winter comes
to sit beside sweet fancy's fire with books,
or weave with penciled words
the fabric of one's life and loves;
to pick among the knotted threads of dreams
for colors that may still be bright,
and so, with backward ranging thoughts
to while away the nights.

But now,
when all the flames burn bright,
let loving be the warp, the woof of life,
the binding arms, the thirsting lips,
the final fulfilled sigh...
There will be time enough
when winter comes
for sleeping through the night.

Irene Dodge
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