Today is my mother's birthday. Had she lived she would have been 94. On this day every year my sisters and I remind each other it's her birthday and we speak not just of her but to her. Happy birthday, Mom!
Coincidentally the first email I received today was from another person celebrating the birthday of a departed one today--poet Robert Peake, whose poems continue to speak of and to his deceased son, James, who would have been eight years old today.
I first met Robert online, when I stumbled on his website and found a poem I really loved and asked permission to share it. Four years ago I was gathering poems to post in a then-upcoming issue of Salamander Cove, which is not usually theme-based, but I'd decided to try something a bit different that time. I wasn't sure how readers would react. The theme was loss of a child, through miscarriage, stillbirth, illness, suicide, accident or war, where these particular beings' not being there anymore--their strongly felt absence--profoundly affected these particular eight poets. Six of them wrote about their own loss, two on the loss of others' children.
The poems held a special meaning for me as well. I hesitated, wondering if it might seem. . . well, too depressing to group together this collective grief and lay them out, one by one. I went ahead anyway. The poems were just so compelling. The poets themselves were supportive of the idea. Occasionally I'd find that a reader had shared the "Loss" posting with a grief support group, that some readers found comfort in the company of these poet-parents and could relate to their experiences. Thank you again, Chris Agee, Anna Ross, Dave Jarecki, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Jim Murdock, Robert Peake, Charles Bernstein and Jamie Dedes, for allowing me to share your poems back then
The Silence Teacher. I knew the background, as it were, and some of the poems were already familiar to me, but what stunned me was the continuity of the sheer Poetry of his poems. There is poetry and there is Poetry. It was not just the retelling of a deeply personal journey, it was a realization of the craft and elegance and care with which each word was chosen..
Don't just believe me - here are some other reviews.
Birthday dates remind us that our beloved departeds are not here anymore. And yet they still are.
And so to my mother, Happy Birthday! I will keep celebrating you.
And to young, little James Valentine Peake, Happy Birthday as well.