Two Consolations On The Death Of My Sister

As Daphne’s veins took root in the Earth,
her blood clear flowing sap, white chalk
on her hard black bark, her arms outspread
to heaven, hair silvering leaves and whispers,
so Gwen soared into the night like a blinding comet
without veins or blood or arms or hair,
a pale glow in the dark joined with the stars and the gods,
at once transformed into everything and nothing,
everywhere and nowhere, more of a riddle now than she ever was
when we knew her—
the telescopes see her in the fires at the cosmic edge,
singing and dancing in the wind, with galaxies in her eyes,
the stars the flax in her golden hair.

Solomon said that with greater knowledge
comes greater sorrow, but Gwen I think
does not know what has happened,
anymore than we know what came before our own lives;
it’s too distracting up there in the garden
with the company of all our ancestors
from Adam down. Too much good conversation,
too much drinking, and enough partying
to keep a Hercules happy.
But we still ask what happened,
and it’s the angels who answer us, if we listen,
their hands on our shoulders, lips in our ears,
murmuring very quietly that Gwen dozes
in a bed of flowers, and dreams of all time
in a moment, and flies with the birds and the clouds,
sprints in a blur with the tigers of paradise—
and this, the angels say,
this is the way of the world,
so all time has ended,
so we are already together.
We are with her now,
we have forgotten our deaths.

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8 thoughts on “Two Consolations On The Death Of My Sister

  1. Ann says:


  2. Angela Haskell says:

    she truly was a lucky girl to have a brother like you. We’ll miss her terribly and your poems are incredibly amazing thank you

  3. Steven Schaefer says:

    Ian, these words are beautiful. I am so very sorry. Through my daughter and all the happy times I was with Gwen, Sarah and friends, I will miss her very much.

    Much love to you and the family,
    Steve Schaefer

  4. Laura Hendricks says:

    Thank you, Ian, for these beautiful and soothing words.

  5. Marie Ivey says:

    I have never read more beautiful words. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your beloved family.

  6. Amy Briggs says:

    Such maturity and perspective from such a young man. Take good care, Ian. We’ll try to do the same for mom and dad. ❤

  7. Elise O'Neil says:

    Thank you for sharing Ian. My thoughts are with you and family. Remembering Gwen as a little scamp. Elise

    • Valerie Haskins says:

      You have brought us right into the realm where Gwen must be traveling, Ian. What an amazing brother/friend she had in you. God bless you, your wife, your Mom and Dad….and Gwen, you indeed live on in our hearts.

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