Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017
a crushing of bird wings
Easter was Sarai’s favorite holiday. Spring, renewal, nests in Easter baskets. This year Easter is the half-anniversary of her death, also on a Sunday, October 16, 2016. It was unexpected, a heart attack on a heart we didn’t know had problems. We’d had a nice day, happy together, and then her life ended, and mine, and her daughter’s, and to lesser extents the lives of everyone she knew, changed. The world is different, now that she’s not in it.
I’m not going to dwell on the six months. That’s not what this is about: anyone who has had such a loss already knows, and those who haven’t, can’t. What this is about is her poetry, a manifestation of her life’s work, which was, in my words not hers, to strive for a simple and pure life amid the chaos of the world, family, shirts, laundry, birds on the lake, birds in the bottle brush outside her window, the cat, the husband, men, daily life.
There are a lot of poems. Being when we are they aren’t on the backs old envelopes inside a trunk, or in notebooks scattered around the house and her studio (though there may be some of those too), but on her laptop hard drive, which I’ve copied so as to preserve the original. Some she’d published here and there, and she’d made a number of chapbooks she printed and published herself in her backyard studio, but most of these poems, including in my opinion many of the best, were unfamiliar to me and, I suspect, have not been read by anyone else yet either. Reading them has helped make this six months more nearly bearable, her voice fresh in my eyes, including from before I knew her, decades back. She wanted to finish them all, in the furniture sense, before she died, but of course she had no idea when that would be, her heart attack a complete surprise, so it’s not clear in some cases which ones she thought were done. I’m making that judgement as I go through them, making no changes except an occasional misspelling. Some are not flattering to me, but I love them anyway, and I feel it’s my responsibility to her and, if my opinion is not too biased, to the world to make them available.
She wanted a website, saraiaustin.com. She got the name and the hosting service, but got stuck in the planning. I don’t know what I’m doing either, just plowing ahead: I’ve put up her chapbooks and am working at adding poems as I read them, not all but many. I apologize for awkwardness of presentation in some places, and hope it doesn’t get in the way of the work itself.
So now six months have passed, and we’ve gone this far. The world is different with her not in it; maybe these poems can bring her back a little, for those who knew her, and perhaps for some who didn’t.