Author photo by Peter's son, Walter Bakowski

Monday, May 9, 2011

Eulogy at sea

Earlier this year, Melbourne organization Lines To Time (www.linestotime.org), affiliated with Melbourne University, invited poets and musicians to compose a poem or song to present at funeral ceremonies for the poor or unknown deceased.
I volunteered. Thus on Tuesday 19 April 2011, I presented the following poem, "Eulogy at sea" as the ashes of ten poor or unknown deceased were cast from the deck of a donated sailing ship into Port Philip Bay.

When a tree

is felled,

there’s one tree less

for shelter, shade and birdsong.


Now that you’re dead

there’s a space

which I cannot fill

with who you were,

because not one of us

can be fully known.


You were born,

you were alive—

let us not forget

our sometimes amazement

at living—

to have lain in summer grass,

alone

or with another,

looking up at the night sky,

trying to understand

galaxy after galaxy,

where each star will die.


Your body,

rendered into ashes,

can be held

in one cupped hand.

Marvel at this too

as the wind and sea

take you

away from

our mortal reach.

1 comment:

  1. An effective piece. Especially because it is generic. I especially like the second stanza. It reminds me of what I say when I'm missing my daughter. I tell her that I've a daughter-shaped hole in my life that needs filling. That usually does the trick.

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