Monday, July 23, 2007


Dying Hosta

What to do when a best friend's husband dies
on the eve of your little girl's birthday...

Hang up the phone, lean into the counter
in a kind of conscious faint. Moan.
Moan, a deep cry that comes from a place
you didn't know existed, tremble
and feel the ice cold sensation that begins
rising and falling within you like
Northern Lights
shimmering up and down
a midnight sky.

Take out the black-handled
Henckels and a yellow onion
and chop the pearly flesh into perfect
little squares. Mince the summer
garlic. Scrape it all into a cast iron
pan. Add dried oregano, because you can't
think about harvesting right now... the fresh
oregano just outside the kitchen door.

Turn to the sink and begin. One glass,
one dish at a time. Watch the suds play
at the edges of cobalt blue, fall onto
stainless steel, slide down the drain. Moan
again. A labored moan rising to a muted wail
(you dare not wake the children).

Curse the maker
of lawn mowers. Beg the man
to come back and this time decide
upon a nap instead of the simple exercise
of back and forth on green, where he has
fallen. Did fall. Ask God to turn back time,
if only for this one whose heart has failed
him. Let it not be so, that he has

Turn off the pewter faucet,
the blue flame. Put wilted onions
and herbs in the bottom of a crock pot,
where they will have to wait until tomorrow.
Flick off the recessed lighting.
Go up red oak stairs. Sleep,
a dreamless sleep.

In the morning, sing happy birthday
to your eight-year-old. Kiss her on the
cheek and forehead. Hold her to your
heart. Give her the black-handled scissors
so she may go out into the green.

The birthday sauce will be needing basil, fresh.

And she will go out skipping,
snip it for you at the tender neck.
Put it in your hand with soft, round
fingers. Toss her head, and smile.

Poem and Dying Hosta photo, by L.L. Barkat.


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Blogger Llama Momma said...

Praying for you as you walk through this deep grief with your friend.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I don't know what to say. The juxtaposition of life and death. You captured it beautifully.
I'm so sorry you had to.

4:39 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

Laura, this poem broke my heart for you and gave me chills because it is rendered so beautifully and with such delicacy and grace. The words read slowly, just like the minutes and seconds might have felt for you in each moment of those next hours.

I'm so sorry to hear this news for you, friend.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What insight in the middle of pain the Lord has given you. How deeply you experienced this loss. How brave of you to write it down and share it.

Praying for you.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Jennwith2ns said...

I don't think there's anything different to say than has been said, but I'm so sorry . . .

5:57 PM  
Blogger Motu said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for this beautiful poem. I too just went through a loss (of my uncle.) So this is very timely and heartfelt to me. Again thank you for sharing.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Those thoughts came out very well.
Grieving and praying, too.
Such a shock.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...


Praying for you and your friend and their family. May that beautiful grace you wrote about last week flow from you to her and back again. May your daughter's eighth birthday have been sweet, nonetheless.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

It's interesting how time slows and little things become magnified in the face of trauma.

I'm sorry.


9:34 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

Your poem's beautiful. . . thank you for sharing. I'm sorry. . . praying for strength for you, your friend and all your loved ones. . .

3:31 AM  
Blogger Lynet said...

Beautiful. I wish you all the best in sympathy and strength.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Interesting poem, and I like it.

Praying for your friend.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

ahhhh....tears, pain, sigh....

7:35 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

thank you for allowing us into the cycle of joy at birth and the sorrow of dying, especialy in what seems to be an untimely fashion

my prayer is that your friend will feel the very real presence of God, holding her close and safe in the palm of His hand

10:07 PM  
Blogger Miriam said...

L.L., I'm so sorry for your loss. May God hold you close to His heart as you grieve, and may He give you grace as you walk with your friend on the road to come.


11:19 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

Your poem reminds me of David's psalms - heartfelt, painfully real, glorifying to God.

Thanks for sharing your life with us - the good and the hard.

12:52 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

There really is nothing that can be said, is there? I won't try. Except to say I am sending love & prayers your way, and this poem captures those deep, sucking moments of grief so beautifully. Sorry for your (& your friend's loss).

11:46 AM  
Blogger Julie Luse said...

Oh wow! That was so amazing, and you wrote it? You should write more, you should publish a book. I don't even like this kind of literature, but you write it beautifully. And as for it, I am so sorry about your friend's husband's death if it truly happened!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...


4:11 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

L.L., I'm sorry. I'm praying for you and your friend too.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

What can I say? Fantastic poem about such a sad sad subject.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

Death, it's not the way the world is supposed to be, is it?

2:22 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

Laura, I am sorry to hear this news.

Praying for you, your friend and her family for comfort and healing in the days and months to come.

Thanks for sharing.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You're in my prayers, LL. Your friend too.

*Big Hugs*

5:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

No words here, but just wanted to thank you for sharing these thoughts and words and emotions.

So sorry for both of you.

9:14 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and love, your understanding. It is a refreshment to my soul.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

You have shown us more than you know with your poem. I am both grateful for the words, and sorry that they came from the loss of your friend.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! I know I am terribly late at a response to this post, but WOW! It defines the heart of pain during a loss so well. I only wish I could have expressed my condolensences sooner L.L. It's a beautiful poem and so perfect with how the intense grief goes along side with still continuing through life; the day; the hour, but in such agony and deep sorrow. I am so sorry for what you went through during that time almost 2 yrs. ago.

1:41 AM  

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